University recognized for diversity

By Marissa Novel

Students can see diversity while walking on campus, encountering an art exhibit on Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday, or International Coffee Hour, a social event uniting non-American students.

The university received INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for the third consecutive year, and will be featured in its November issue.

Holly Mendelson, co-owner of INSIGHT, said schools complete a 52-part questionnaire to apply for the award by the June 15th deadline. She said schools are not in competition with one another, but are judged by the type of institution they are and their corresponding merits.


“Obviously the selection criteria is very stringent,” she said. “We have a lot more applicants who don’t receive the award than those that do, so in order to be selected they truly have to show a devotion to diversity and inclusivity on campus.”

Mendelson said the 40-year-old magazine is the oldest and largest publication that promotes awareness and education on diversity and inclusion.

SIU was the only Illinois school of the 46 awarded in 2012.

Linda McCabe Smith, associate chancellor for Institutional Diversity, said the diversity of the student body and Board of Trustees contribute to the university receiving the award, as well as a wide variety of programs for first year and non-traditional students.

“SIU continues to have intentional, active and ongoing engagement practices of inclusivity,” she said.

Smith said two programs, the Women’s Resource Center and Diversity Opportunity Hires, have been added since the first year the university received the award.

She said Diversity Opportunity Hires helps departments bring diverse tenure-track faculty to campus in a fiscally responsible way.


Minorities accounted for 28 percent of the student population while they accounted for 14 percent of all full-time employees in 2013, according to the SIU factbook.

African Americans accounted for about 17 percent of students on campus and 6 percent of full-time faculty and staff positions in the same time period according to the factbook.

SIU-Edwardsville also received the award this year, but its student-to- faculty demographics are different.

Minorities accounted for 23 percent of the student population while they accounted for 21 percent of all full-time employees at SIU-Edwardsville in 2013 its Fact Book reported.

African American students and full-time faculty each accounted for 13 percent of their respective populations at SIUE in the same time period according to its Fact Book.

Nathan Stephens, director for the Center for Inclusive Excellence, said the two-year -old center provides several separate resource centers for the LGBTQA, African American, Latino and female communities while operating with a dual mission.

“On the one hand, we provide cultural space for diverse groups that have been historically marginalized,” he said. “But on the other hand, you provide an opportunity for education and entertainment for students who may not be from those cultures.”

Stephens said he coordinated the Oldham Black Culture Center at the University of Missouri one year ago. He said they had centers for diversity, but there was a lack of inclusivity.

“Diversity tends to be compositional, with numbers,” he said. “Inclusivity speaks more specifically on getting people together but also looking at why they weren’t here in the first place.”

Stephens said the notion of inclusivity was something that attracted him to the position at CIE.

“We no longer have an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. Its an us,” he said. “It’s an SIU, we’re all Salukis.”