UA Little Rock announces new diversity initiatives

UALR sign at the entrance on S. University Dr near University Plaza on January 28, 2016.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has announced new diversity initiatives and events in response to open forums held last month with students, faculty, and staff that centered on race and ethnicity.

“I want to express my appreciation for all who participated in the open forums on race and ethnicity on July 8 and 9,” Chancellor Christina Drale stated in her email to campus. “We had over 300 participants all together and a number of comments on the anonymous comment form. I’ve heard from many of you who felt heartened that we are speaking openly about racial climate issues and that we are starting (or restarting) this important conversation.”

UA Little Rock will continue the campus conversation on race and ethnicity with open forums for students from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, and for faculty and staff from 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10.

After careful consideration of issues discussed during the open forums, Chancellor Drale announced campus initiatives to improve diversity, inclusion, and student retention at UA Little Rock.

The Student Multicultural Center will be relaunched and relocated to the second floor of Ottenheimer Library. The center will have a new assistant director and programming budget.

The university will also relaunch the Student Affairs Diversity Initiatives with an expanded mentoring program with peer and faculty/staff mentors. Stipends for mentors will be available through external funding.

UA Little Rock will form a new student-oriented Racial Barriers Committee. The committee, recommended by the Student Government Association, will review policies and processes for potential unintended racial barriers and receive complaints, concerns, and suggestions from students concerning race and ethnicity issues.

A new faculty- and staff-oriented Chancellor’s Race and Ethnicity Advisory Committee will be formed to continue the campus conversation about race and ethnicity and to identify areas for continuous improvement. This idea for this committee is based on the original committee created by former Chancellor Joel Anderson.

The university is also developing implicit bias training for employees and students, best practices on diversity hiring, a salary equity study, and a campus-wide book discussion centered on topics of race and ethnicity.

UA Little Rock has additional initiatives underway to support students facing barriers to success. An expansion of student retention initiatives will include the addition of student success coaches, a peer-mentoring program, and a learning assistants program.

The Chancellor’s Leadership Corps, a scholarship-supported leadership development program, will hire a success coach position and expand its programming budget. Additionally, UA Little Rock will launch a new Career Services Center.

Anyone who would like to submit feedback on race and ethnicity at UA Little Rock may fill out this form.

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