Presented to the Board of Regents Mission Fulfillment Committee on October 12, 2017
Introduction by Karen Hanson, Executive Vice President and Provost:
This is a continuation of our urgent discussion about the University’s commitment to equity, and the nature and purpose of that commitment as we serve our public—our state and our nation. In particular, we are discussing the role of a commitment to diversity in both advancing University goals of excellence in teaching, research, and service and in adhering to our foundational values. You have had several recent conversations about diversity in our undergraduate student bodies, and your December agenda will include once again a discussion about diversity in undergraduate enrollment at the Twin Cities campus, as part of a general review of Twin Cities undergraduate enrollment.
Undergraduate enrollment review is, however, just one lens on this important issue, and in today’s discussion we want to focus on some other areas of activity central to our understanding of the ways in which equity and diversity are crucial to our mission. I’ve asked some colleagues to join us today to help convey some of the work now going on at the University and to share with you their thoughts about campus climate, building a great faculty, enriching graduate education—and next steps.
- Scott Lanyon is the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education;
- Sean Garrick is Professor of Mechanical Engineering on the Twin Cities campus;
- Valery Forbes is the Dean of the College of Biological Sciences on the Twin Cities campus; and
- Fernando Delgado is the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on the Duluth Campus
Let me just take a moment to frame this conversation. Why does diversity matter? First, we’re a public university, with a commitment to serve the public. This of course means that there is no exclusion of staff, faculty, or students on arbitrary grounds, such as race or ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference or identity, economic status. But service to the public means more than the absence of arbitrary discrimination or exclusion. We believe—and we believe this on the basis of evidence—that our work—our research, our provision of education, our service and outreach to the state—is better, is of improved quality as well as more equitably distributed, when it is informed by the perspectives of a diverse community of students, staff, and faculty.
- Students are better prepared to live in and contribute to our increasingly global, pluralistic, and multicultural society;
- Our research, teaching, and outreach more accurately reflect and can make use of the many different questions, experiences and perspectives that shape and define our various communities.
- We draw upon a larger pool of talent.
All this suggests that, as discussed in you work session in June, our state will be better prepared for future success, both socially and economically, if our University is mindful of and responsive to the changing demographics of our state and the nation.
So, we’ve put together this panel to give you some indication of our current efforts to enhance diversity in graduate education and faculty development, and, after the panel presentation, we will hope for your thoughts and guidance on future work and directions.