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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 11, 2010) – Affirming his commitment to build a strong sense of campus community, University of Central Missouri, President Charles Ambrose has announced the development of a new Diversity Action Plan.
Ambrose discussed the plan when he joined students, faculty and staff for a peaceful rally at the Elliott Union Mall Wednesday, Nov. 10, in support of a safe, welcoming, and tolerant campus and community environment. The rally was planned by students in cooperation with administrators as a way to address an act of vandalism that occurred off campus the weekend of Oct. 22-23. No suspect has been identified in the incident, which involved spray painting anti-gay words and symbols on a Homecoming float created jointly be student groups Queers and Allies and the Association of Black Collegians.
A number of students and faculty members performed for a large crowd at the Elliott Union Mall Nov. 10 when students hosted a rally in support of a strong, inclusive, university community.
Citing an excerpt from a letter he previously sent to the university, Ambrose told the crowd, “We have the responsibility to provide a safe educational environment along with the entire higher education system, which has been challenged by acts of bigotry, hate and discrimination. These acts get in our way of becoming who we can be, and of realizing our fullest potential.” He added, such acts on college campuses also “communicate something different than who we are, so we must effect positive change.”
Stressing the importance of being proactive in creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive university community, the president said he will work with the Office of Student Affairs and the chief diversity officer to implement action priorities that cover five different areas: campus culture and climate; enrollment/retention management initiatives; faculty, staff and community development; institutional assessment of resources and realignment of roles and responsibilities; and community outreach and engagement.
Creating a quality campus culture and climate where diversity thrives will be linked to the university mission and values established in the UCM Creed, the president said. It will be student focused, and Student Affairs will be instrumental in integrating diversity into its programs. Efforts also will be made to include diversity within extended campus and programs offered for adults.
The second component of the action plan emphasizes the value of making a UCM education more accessible and affordable to groups underserved by the institution. As part of the enrollment/retention management initiatives, the president is asking university leaders to develop strategies for reaching out to urban minority students in areas such as Kansas City and enhance the campus culture by working to recruit more international students. Enhanced retention programs and development of financial aid strategies to better serve these students are part of the plan, according to Ambrose.
To meet faculty, staff and community development goals, Ambrose said the university will create a learning agenda for professional development regarding diversity issues, and develop institutional and academic programs to heighten awareness of those issues and build community. In addition, the president will ask the Office of Human Resources to work with the campus community to create a climate and culture assessment with a goal to recruit and retain a more diverse university workforce.
“I am asking for an assessment and realignment of goals and responsibilities, so that we can more effectively deliver the creed and values and mission that we say are most important here,” Ambrose said.
He noted that the action plan includes developing a timeline with measureable goals and objectives. A preliminary report regarding development of 2011 institutional diversity objectives will be made to the president’s cabinet prior to the end of the 2010 fall semester.
The community outreach and engagement component of the Diversity Action Plan calls for full utilization of institutional partners, programs, and local community agencies to collaborate in advancing UCM’s strategies for diversity and inclusion. It will also involve internal and external community initiatives for programs and learning opportunities.
Ambrose said feedback from university constituents will be sought as the institution moves forward with the Diversity Action Plan.