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Diversity Report to Board of Regents

Published: October 13, 2014

During the UW System Board of Regents meeting Friday, UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford reported on initiatives designed to strengthen an inclusive campus climate, and close equity gaps in the areas of student access, retention and degree completion.

As the UW System's most diverse campus with under-represented minorities accounting for 30 percent of student enrollment (the UW System average is 13 percent), Ford said that work to improve academic success permeates the entire campus community. "We're proud to have one of the most diverse campuses in the UW System," she said. "We need to improve graduation rates for all students at UW-Parkside, and particularly our students of color. We are making progress, but we have more work to do." 

During Ford's presentation, she focused on two key goals for the university:
  • enhance the environment and culture of the campus; and
  • improve student success for under-represented minorities. 

As an example of a more inclusive campus environment, Ford highlighted "Rangers in Action" where students, faculty and staff nominate their peers for work they have done in support of diversity and inclusion. In 2013, 29 people were honored. At the fall 2014 convocation, 80 members of the campus community received "Rangers in Action" honors. "This is just one metric that shows the success of our efforts," Ford said. 

There are important areas of success within various disciplines such as pre-health and pre-med. Within these two areas, UW-Parkside students are accepted to medical and other professional health schools at more than double the national average (90 percent vs. 40 percent), 20 percent of the Parkside applicants are students of color. 

Another example came from the National Survey of Student Engagement. Parkside students responding to survey conducted every three years reported having interaction and discussions with people of other races more often than students responding from other UW comprehensive universities and UW-Parkside Carnegie peers. Parkside students also reported that the institution encouraged contact and discussion among students from different backgrounds more than responding students at other UW System campuses and UW-Parkside Carnegie peers. 

Ford also shared some of the university's challenges. While Parkside is enrolling more Hispanic, Latina and Latino students, there has been a slight decline in the enrollment of African American students. 

This fall, the university experienced the highest first-year to second-year retention in 25 years, however, retention of Hispanic, Latina, Latino, and African American students declined. 

"Real efforts lead to amazing results, and I am proud of our progress," Ford said. "I'm confident in our direction and our commitment to create an inclusive campus focused on student success."   

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