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Strategic plan focuses on UWS diversity

The University of Wisconsin-Superior recently initiated the first Strategic Plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the history of the institution. The plan is designed to help the UWS community achieve a diverse and inclusive campus climate.

"There have been so many groups in involved," said Jerel Benton, director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity and senior diversity officer. "It's been great. It gives us an opportunity to look at policy and practices to make sure we are fostering an inclusive environment."

This plan marks UWS's continued commitment to giving everyone the opportunity to develop to their full potential. The tasks included defining diversity and inclusion and identifying why it was important to the institution along with the importance of diversity at UWS.

"As a scholarly community that encourages diversity of that is reflected in our broad array of disciplines, we embrace the many things in life that makes us different," said Benton. "This is essential for us to survive and thrive as an institution. Every individual is an asset, and we hope to demonstrate this in our policies, practices and operations."

The diversity statement speaks to the commitment to recognize, include and value-inherent worth and dignity of each person; foster tolerance, sensitivity, understanding, mutual respect and justice among its members; and encourages everyone to strive to reach their own potential.

"We're looking at the needs from a student perspective — needs to better prepare students to enter higher education," said Benton.

The four goals, 13 strategies and 46 tactics will be prioritized and shepherded by the diversity and inclusion committee and primary stewards of the action needed to be taken throughout the next three years. Revisions and updates will be made annually, and the plan will be monitored throughout the year, to ensure its goals, strategies and tactics reflect the realities of the campus community life. The goals include enhanced communication; assessment and implementation; recruitment and retention of students; recruitment and retention of faculty and staff and engagement and education.

"The access piece is the most exciting," said Benton. "It's a strategy that has not been a strategic focus in the past. We're looking to develop new strategies that makes the institution accessible to diverse groups of students."