Greetings, and welcome to the first edition of Our Grounds: Dimensions of Diversity, a quarterly newsletter published by the Office for Diversity and Equity at the University of Virginia.
The responsibility to promote an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful environment rests on the shoulders of everyone in our UVA community. To help accomplish this goal, the Office for Diversity and Equity collaborates with academic and administrative units, students, staff, and faculty across Grounds as well as with members of the greater Charlottesville community. We encourage the exchange of ideas, provide insights, and develop strategies to make UVA the place for inclusion. Top level administration strongly support and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion at UVA. President Sullivan and Provost Katsouleas are very engaged in our efforts. Deans are now asked to submit diversity plans for their schools, which will lead to increased accountability and opportunities to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at UVA.
We are happy to report progress in first-year student diversity. Overall, 31.9% of students in the UVA’s Class of 2020 are minorities. Applications from African American students have increased 30% since 2012—compared to 19% for the class—and applications from African Americans have increased by 567 since 2013. The number of African American enrolling first year students has increased 44% during this time, compared to an 8% increase for the overall class. The number of first-year African American students, including multi-race, has increased 41% since 2012 and this year African American students represent 9.1% of the class, compared to 7.1% five years ago. Additionally, 11.2% of this year’s entering class are first-generation college students.
UVA is making progress when it comes to diversifying the faculty as well. Of the 107 tenure-track faculty hired during the past year, 40% are women and 31% are underrepresented minorities, which is a record number for the University. A further racial/ethnic breakdown of the tenured/tenure-track faculty is as follows: 17 Asian/ Asian Pacific Islander, nine African American, six Latino, one multi-race, nine unknown, and 65 White. Of the 116 non-tenure-track faculty hired, 16% are underrepresented minorities and 51% are women.
We are also happy to share that UVA has been selected to receive the 2016 INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award (HEED). The HEED Award is the only national award recognizing colleges and universities that display exceptional commitment to all aspects of diversity and inclusion. Since the award’s inception five years ago, UVA has been recognized for its outstanding diversity and inclusion initiatives annually. In addition, the School of Medicine will be receiving the Health Professions HEED Award for the second year in a row. The recipients of this year’s award will be featured in INSIGHT Into Diversity’s November issue.
As part of our goal to encourage the exchange of ideas across Grounds and make UVA a place of inclusion, we coordinate annually the Community MLK Celebration in January. In 2016 the celebration spanned two weeks and consisted of over 20 events, focusing on Dr. King’s “call to higher ground” and its implications in our world today. The events ranged from exhibits and discussions on Grounds to services in the community. Students and members of the community were able to engage with speakers such as Dr. Damon Tweedy (New York Times bestselling author and psychiatrist at Duke University Medical Center) and Michael Eric Dyson (New York Times op-ed contributor, MNSBC political analyst, and Georgetown University sociology professor.) This year, we are excited to announce that among several events Anita Hill will be the 2017 Community MLK Celebration keynote speaker.
We are also pleased to report that the number of underrepresented minority STEM students enrolled and graduating from the nine-institution Virginia-North Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation increased over the previous year by 12% and 15% respectively. We are on track to achieve 60% above the 2012 baseline by 2017. In the spring, the University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College co-hosted the 9th Annual VA-NC Alliance Undergraduate Research Symposium. The 179 registrants, representing all 9 of the Alliance’s partner schools, attended workshops and talks. On the final day of the symposium, approximately 30 students presented research. This summer in collaboration with UVA partners, the VA-NC Alliance hosted twenty undergraduate students in a research program. During the program, the students worked with faculty and graduate students to gain experience in various fields of STEM research. All of these exciting developments illustrate progress in our goal to increase the number of minority students graduating with STEM degrees and strengthen the University’s capacity to advance knowledge.
I look forward to our continued work together and wish you all a healthy and productive fall semester. Below you will find more information on these and other exciting happenings that have taken place at the University over the past few months.