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University of Iowa News Release

 

Dec. 10, 2007

UI releases second report on Campus Diversity Climate Survey

The University of Iowa Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity has released the second in a series of four reports describing the results of a diversity climate survey commissioned by the president's office. The report on the survey of graduate/professional students concludes that the UI can do more to improve diversity and inclusion at the university, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities, non-U.S.-born, female, and older graduate/professional students.

Recommendations of the report include encouraging collegiate leaders to enhance their demonstration of institutional commitment to diversity in their individual colleges. Also, the report suggested increased support for collegiate efforts to teach graduate/professional students the diversity skills and cultural competencies necessary for success in their disciplines.

The survey was distributed to all graduate and professional students (7,257 students) in the spring semester of 2005. The survey examined three main topical areas: campus climate, level and quality of inter-group relations, and diversity awareness. Respondents were also able to share comments on the construction of the survey or on any other topic not covered by the survey questions.

In compiling its report, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity considered the responses of all the students in the survey, as well as responses of subgroups based on racial/ethnic group status (majority or minority), citizenship status (U.S.-born or non-U.S.-born), gender (male or female), age group (20-25 years old, 26-30, 31-35 or 36 and older), and graduate/professional degree goal (master's, doctoral, professional or dual/combined degree).

Some key findings include:

--83 percent of all graduate/professional student respondents reported that interacting with people of different races and ethnicities has had a moderately to clearly positive effect on their educational experience at UI.

--77 percent of respondents indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall graduate/professional student experience at the UI.

--A high percentage of respondents reported having opportunities to get to know students from a variety of backgrounds.

--Racial/ethnic minority, non-U.S.-born, female, and older respondents tended to report that they experienced less access, equity and inclusion, and had a lower quality of experience in their living, learning, and working environments, than did their counterparts.

--While over 70 percent of the respondents reported feeling as though they belonged at the UI, nearly 60 percent reported feeling lonely and 42 percent reported social isolation within their college.

--Overall, 42 percent of respondents reported that racial/ethnic representation on the faculty was not adequate in their college, 20 percent were not sure, and 38 percent said that the representation was adequate. Regarding racial/ethnic representation on the staff in their college, 40 percent said the representation was not adequate, 26 percent were not sure, and 34 percent said representation was adequate. Racial/ethnic minority respondents were significantly less likely to report that the racial/ethnic and gender representation were adequate on the faculty and on the staff in their colleges.

--Nearly 50 percent of respondents reported that they had never attended symposia or conferences at the UI that incorporated diverse perspectives into the content of the sessions.

"We are particularly grateful that students spent time to provide written comments, which we hope will lead to some specific programming to address their concerns," said Marcella David, special assistant to the president for equal opportunity and diversity and associate provost for diversity.

A six-member subcommittee, with the assistance of a campus-wide advisory committee, compiled the report and made several recommendations covering the areas of communication, student engagement and skill development, and future research and assessment.

Additional recommendations include:

--To encourage dialogue between academic administrators and graduate/professional students within their respective colleges on the value of diversity and inclusion in the higher educational environment.

--To address the reports from graduate/professional students of loneliness and social isolation, examine ways to enhance the social integration of all students in departmental and collegiate life, and consider the feasibility of building a centrally located, multifunctional, interdisciplinary graduate student commons.

"While there are many positive findings in the report, other findings indicate a need for the university administration to continue focusing on ways to enhance the academic experience for all graduate and professional students on the UI campus," said Jennifer Modestou, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and one of the co-authors of the report.

For more information, including the complete survey results, see: http://www.uiowa.edu/~eod/diversity_climate_surveys/index.html
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MEDIA CONTACTS: Jennifer Modestou, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, 319-335-0705, jennifer-modestou@uiowa.edu; Marcella David, UI President's Office, 319-335-0705, marcella-david@uiowa.edu; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu; Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-335-0552

Story Source: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 370, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242