Purdue Releases Plan to Increase Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

More than six months after students protested racism on campus and issued a list of demands to the administration, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Diversity at Purdue University released a report that seeks to address students’ concerns. Released last week, the report outlines 10 goals in regard to recruiting and retaining more underrepresented students, faculty, and staff, as well as improving the campus climate to embrace diversity.

Specific actions outlined in the report include having individual colleges and departments set their own diversity enrollment goals, with an 18-month time line for implementation, and improving the retention and attrition rates of minority students — a long-term goal with a 10-year deadline.

As a living document, the report will be updated and improved as the administration receives input from the campus community.

“The document is meant to serve our campus and to help guide us in improving life on campus, with respect to being inclusive and improving the quality of education and the environment for faculty, staff, students, and our entire community,” Mark Smith, dean of the Graduate School and member of the Diversity Leadership Team at Purdue, told the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Established last October to address diversity issues on Purdue’s campus, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Diversity is made up of 30 faculty and staff members, as well as students. Between October and February, the committee conducted outreach to campus and student groups to gather suggestions on diversity and inclusion improvements.

With the release of the report, administrators are beginning to have conversations with faculty and staff around setting their own specific diversity goals — an area Smith believes has the greatest potential for transformation because of the direct impact it can have on students.

While he says that as a whole, Purdue’s campus community is welcoming of diversity, he emphasizes that not everyone was raised in diverse and inclusive environments.

“We have groups from all over the world, all different types of cultures, all different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds,” Smith said. “For many people, this is a new experience, and so it’s a tremendous change in culture to try to get the broad campus to embrace this as a strength, an opportunity, and a wonderful benefit.”