Appalachian State Chancellor Says School Is Making Progress On Diversity
Appalachian State University has been working to address a lack of campus diversity.
According to rankings in Forbes Magazine, African-Americans made up 3% of the student population in 2015.
15% of 2015’s first-year class were students from traditionally underrated groups.
The Chancellor’s Commission On Diversity was formed to address concerns expressed by both students and faculty.
When Dr. Sheri Everts joined Appalachian State as Chancellor in 2014, she asked the commission to put together a set of recommendations based on their findings.
In all, six of the Commission's proposals are being rolled out this year, including implementation of a bias incident response process, expanding an exit interview process, and creating a formal mentoring program for students from underrepresented groups.
WFDD's Neal Charnoff talked with Chancellor Everts about the school’s priorities moving forward.
Chancellor Everts says several of the recommendations came out of conversations with students, who wanted to see their ideas supplemented by research and faculty input.
“As is typical on a majority campus...we ensure that all of our students have some sort of diversity inclusion, either training or information, so that they understand how bias may be part of conversation when we’re not really aware of it.”
Everts says that while it’s too soon to track many concrete improvements, she does point out that enrollment of traditionally underrepresented groups has increased.
“15% of our incoming class in 2015 were students from traditionally underrepresented groups. That’s a move up of three percentage points in a single year. So, in that regard, I’d say that’s success in a year. Are we there in regard to what those numbers should look like? Perhaps not necessarily, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
One of the student groups advising the committee has been making recommendations on how to make the campus more diverse, and how recruitment from high schools can be improved.
“I’d say that listening to (these groups) might in and of itself might be a success. They feel that we’re listening to them and we are actually carrying out the ideas they have.”