Indiana Daily Student

$1 million to fund graduate diversity initiative

The University has allocated $1 million to fund graduate student diversity initiatives through the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.

In a Thursday meeting with the IU Board of Trustees, Vice President of DEMA James Wimbush explained the breakdown of funds for the initiative, which aims to encourage timely doctoral degree completion.

Included in the initiatives are a diversity recruitment fellowship, a graduate mentoring center and a diversity dissertation year fellowship, Wimbush said.

About 40 percent of the total funds, $395,000, will go toward diversity recruitment. $270,000 will fund timely completion initiatives and $239,000 will fund mentoring programs.

The rest – about $96,000 – will benefit community building initiatives such as graduate emissaries and a center for faculty development and diversity.

Wimbush said they have allocated the funds based on studies showing money, mentoring and family support as primary factors in doctoral degree completion.

“We can’t do a whole lot about family support, but we can do a lot about money and mentoring,” he said.

Undergraduate retention and graduation rates are also of primary concern for Wimbush, he said.

“Certainly when it comes to completion, the numbers are not what we’d like to see," he said.

He mentioned how IU's  21st Century Scholars Program displayed a four-year completion rate of 36 percent at the IU Bloomington campus.

"For a program that is specifically for four years, and a program that students will not have any out of pocket costs, you’d expect it to be higher," Wimbush said.

IU Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate led a discussion earlier in the meeting clarifying enrollment percentages, classifications and trends across all campuses.

"At least half of the committee is new to enrollment reporting," Applegate said.

Committee chair James Morris shared his concerns regarding tougher admission rates at the IU regional campuses, specifically at IU East.

Reports showed 46 percent of applicants were denied admission this year to IU East, a school that until fairly recently, was open admission, Applegate said.

"Those days are gone when, if you couldn’t be admitted to IU, you could be admitted at a regional campus," University Relations Committee Chair James Morris said.

Kathryn Cruz-Uribe, chancellor at IU East, was also present at the meeting, and acknowledged her goal of improving both quality of students and access to a college degree.

Applegate agreed later in the meeting that IU is faced with difficult goals of broadening access and diversity while also increasing graduation rates.

“Traditionally those are goals in some degree of conflict with each other," Applegate said. “The more broadly you create access to education, the more difficulties students have in getting to graduation.”

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