NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University was ranked ninth among regional universities in the south for campus ethnic diversity in a study by U.S. News and World Report. NSU was the only school in Louisiana in the top 10.
The study aimed to identify colleges where students are most likely to encounter undergraduates from racial or ethnic groups different from their own. U.S. News factored in the total proportion of minority students, leaving out international students, and the overall mix of groups. The data was drawn from each institution’s fall 2018 total undergraduate student body.
The ethnic categories used in the calculations are non-Hispanic African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Asian, non-Hispanic white and multiracial (two or more races). Students who did not identify themselves as members of any of those demographic groups were classified as non-Hispanic whites for the purpose of these calculations. The formula produced a diversity index that ranges from 0 to 1. The closer a school’s number is to 1, the more diverse the student population.
“Diversity and inclusion in the Student Experience is a strategic goal for us at Northwestern,” said Frances Conine, dean of students and vice president for the student experience at NSU. “I believe the experiences we attempt to provide our students are valuable in becoming better citizens of the world. I’m delighted we’ve achieved this ranking but recognize we always have more work to do in Inclusion and equity.”
Last year, NSU formed a Workplace Inclusion Taskforce after several faculty, staff and administrators attended the University of Louisiana System workshop on Ensuring a Healthy and Productive Workplace. This year, the ULS Board of Supervisors endorsed the task force policy recommendations that contribute to combining greater awareness, increased knowledge, and enhanced technical skills to practices of incorporating attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, values and mission-driven policies across the UL System and institutions that are consistent with ethical ideals of respect and inclusion. Such practice provides opportunities for increased creativity in problem-solving and innovation, increased civility and more effective and impactful System and institutional outcomes.
Under the leadership of faculty Dr. Allison Rittmayer and Dr. Eddie Horton, NSU’s Campus Wide Diversity Committee continues to discuss and monitor diversity and inclusion efforts at Northwestern State University. At the same time, a team of faculty, staff and students is working to develop a new diversity and inclusion plan for NSU, said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio.
Conine and Dr. Greg Handel, provost and vice president for academic affairs, cochair the Diversity and Inclusion Planning Team.
“The Planning Team has developed goals and is working on strategies to be implemented over a five-year period,” Maggio said. “Several members of the Planning Team also serve on the Campus Wide Diversity Committee. Ideas and suggestions from the Campus Wide Diversity Committee have been very helpful and are guiding the actions of our Diversity and Inclusion Planning Team in developing the new five-year plan. The team is working diligently to have a new plan in place by January 2020.”
NSU’s Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID) is located on the first floor of the Student Union. Faculty member Brittany Blackwell Broussard coordinates CID programming, sits on the Campus Wide Diversity Committee and is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Planning Team. The first CID website will be launched in a few weeks and for the first time will bring together and highlight University goals, activities and resources related to diversity and inclusion.