The University of Nebraska-Lincoln held its 2020 State of Diversity event Thursday, discussing UNL’s effort to create a more diverse and inclusive environment on campus.
The virtual event started at 9 a.m. and included a presentation on the current state of diversity at UNL, breakout sessions for further discussion on diversity and a questions panel.
Chancellor Ronnie Green spoke about what the university is doing to secure a diverse and inclusive campus.
“While this work is more behind the scenes, I am confident that you will see changes in action as efforts unfold,” Green said. “From the demands, it is clear that our university needs to focus on elevating our recognition and support of research and creative activity that focuses on critical issues related to race and ingenuity.”
Green also recognized UNL faculty members for their work in creating an inclusive environment, including Stephanie Bondi, associate professor of practice and student affairs administration M.A. coordinator, and Anna Shavers, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and the Cline Williams professor of citizenship law.
Programs recognized for efforts to expand inclusivity included the Rural Law Opportunities Program and Underserved Law Opportunities Program.
Marco Barker, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, also shared the current diversity statistics for the university, and the priorities that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion holds.
Those priorities were communication, coordination, culture and climate, leadership development, learning and education, policy strategies and brand.
“One of the areas that we have made some progress is being able to increase the representation in terms of students of color and our institution,” Barker said. “That number has increased by 11%.”
Barker highlighted the positive changes that the university has made, but he also addressed the areas that the university needs to improve on, such as the gender ratio among professors.
“As we look across the different ranks in terms of our faculty, we know that there is certainly a disparity that exists in terms of representation,” Barker said.
After the first session was completed, breakout sessions were offered to continue the conversation.
Following the breakout sessions, there was a question panel with guests Katrice Albert, founder and managing director of Third Eye Consulting Group, Rona Tamiko Halualani, founder of Halualani & Associates and a professor of communication studies at San José State University and Daryl Smith, professor emerita of education and psychology and senior research fellow at Claremont Graduate University.
The questions asked were about the pandemic and diversity, and the challenges the university faces as they move forward in their push for inclusivity, as well as challenges the university may have with the N2025 Strategic Plan.
Albert spoke about how the university can continue to thrive for inclusivity.
“We need to be thoughtful about how we not only support the people on our university campuses but how we hire for diverse top talent,” Albert said. “How do we focus in on health and wellness during this really challenging time for our minoritized communities?”