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New Initiative Promotes Diversity

August 31, 2009
Nell Russell leads the SDI core committee.

The University of Wyoming has launched a Strategic Diversity Initiative (SD) to promote and strengthen diversity on campus.

UW President Tom Buchanan says the SDI is an outcome of an evaluation of the success of PACMWA, the President's Advisory Council for Minority and Women's Affairs. Challenges were identified, and the optimal structure for UW's diversity efforts was reviewed.

"It was especially important to evaluate the structure and composition most in line with designing and recommending strategies for achieving diversity in accordance with 'The Creation of the Future: University Plan 3,'" Buchanan says. "As we grow and change as an institution, so do the issues surrounding diversity; our understanding of the needs of our students and employees has evolved, and our definition of diversity has been broadened and enriched."

To accomplish the goals set forth in the University Plan 3, PACMWA was replaced by an SDI core committee chaired by Nell Russell, associate vice president for diversity.

"Our ultimate goal is to engage in strategic activities that create a campus environment that appeals to individuals from varied backgrounds and beliefs," Russell says. "We also look forward to establishing a more visible partnership with the greater Wyoming community."

She noted the committee is working to achieve the Academic Plan's diversity objective to "secure a climate of acceptance and mutual respect for different opinions, cultures, experiences and personalities. We are committed to evaluating, endorsing, and supporting viable diversity initiatives."

The SDI core committee is more flexible than PACMWA and works directly with the Office of Diversity to encourage diversity in teaching and learning; foster a welcoming community for historically marginalized groups at UW and in the Laramie community; promote a climate of acceptance and mutual respect for different opinions, cultures, and experiences; and support the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body, faculty, and staff.

Representatives from a variety of campus groups will be regularly invited to participate in discussions with the core committee depending upon the topic or project being discussed.

Among the Academic Plan 3's action plans is to establish partnerships and academic ties with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and historically black colleges and universities. Russell says a videoconference is scheduled with one of those identified institutions, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University.

Members of the SDI core committee are: Myron Allen, provost and vice president for academic affairs: Anne Alexander, director of International Programs; Tom Burman, director of Intercollegiate Athletics; Pilar Flores, director of Student Educational Opportunity; Matt Haigler, ASUW president; Klaus Hanson, professor emeritus, Modern and Classical Languages; Mark Northam, director of the School of Energy Resources; Don Roth, professor of molecular biology; and Dorothy Yates, associate vice president for research and economic development.

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