IU vice president shares progress in efforts to foster diversity, inclusion

Indiana University has made notable progress in its efforts to foster diversity and inclusion on all of its campuses, IU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs James C. Wimbush told the IU Board of Trustees during its Oct. 5 meeting.

Wimbush's presentation coincided with the release of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs' 2017-18 annual report, which details the progress the university has achieved in recruiting and retaining a diverse community, building an inclusive campus environment, and ensuring that students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds can thrive at IU.

During his presentation, Wimbush emphasized three key highlights of the annual report: IU is becoming a more diverse university, a more inclusive campus, and an institution that retains and graduates more students from historically underserved communities. Wimbush said that, while there is always further progress to be made, the university's achievements across the board reinforce IU's deep commitment to furthering diversity and inclusion on each of its campuses.

In the past year, IU continued to set records in its recruitment of diverse campus communities. Across the university, minority student enrollment increased to 25.1 percent of the student body for the 2018-19 year, a figure higher than the minority percentage of Indiana's population of 23.3 percent. Six IU campuses, as well as the university as a whole, set new records in minority enrollment for the 2018-19 year, representing an overall 4 percent increase in minority student enrollment from 2017-18. In doing so, the university also set all-time records for enrollment of Latino and Asian American students.

Wimbush said the positive trends of recruitment and enrollment of students from historically underserved communities has also been seen in timely graduation. In the 2017-18 academic year, the four-year graduation rate for minority students rose to 33.1 percent, a 9.7 percent increase from the 2009-10 cohort. Though graduation rates have increased over the past several years, Wimbush said that reducing gaps between the timely graduation rates of minority and majority students remains a central priority for the university.

In 2017-18, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs also worked with the university to recruit and retain a diverse faculty and staff. In particular, diverse faculty recruitment efforts have led to 23.7 percent of tenure-track faculty hailing from historically underserved communities. The number of minority staff also saw modest increases in 2017-18. Key to the office's ongoing work in this area, Wimbush said, will be improving retention of minority faculty and bolstering recruitment efforts and career advancement for minority staff.

Building an inclusive campus was also a key focus for Wimbush's office in the 2017-18 year. On the Bloomington campus, much of this work takes place through office-supported academic and cultural centers, which implement programming to celebrate students' cultures and ensure that they feel welcome at IU. The efforts of these centers are mirrored by organizations on IU's other campuses. Office-supported philanthropic efforts, such as the newly announced Black Philanthropy Circle and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs Staff Giving Campaign, have also been critical in supporting initiatives that foster inclusion across the university.

Wimbush also said that the work undertaken by the university has not gone unrecognized. In 2018, INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine awarded IU Bloomington and IUPUI with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, Award. IU Bloomington also received the designation of Diversity Champion from INSIGHT Into Diversity, an honor shared by only 13 other universities. Campus Pride also included IU Bloomington on its 2018 Best of the Best list of the top 30 LGBTQ-friendly campuses in the United States.

The positive trends throughout the 2017-18 report underscore the ways that the university's commitment to diversity and inclusion have demonstrably improved the lives of students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds, Wimbush said. As the university approaches its bicentennial, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs will take stock of this impact by examining the history of diversity and inclusion at IU. At the same time, the office will also mark the years leading up to IU's bicentennial by upholding its commitment to a more diverse and inclusive environment for generations to come.

The full annual report from the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs can be found at diversity.iu.edu.