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 Emphasis on D&I in Education

The tenets of diversity and inclusion (D&I) are permeating collegiate and graduate educational institutions more than ever before to create an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance. 
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is more important than ever at colleges, universities and graduate schools.
It demonstrates to students their commitment to D&I, as well as to multiculturalism and diversity of thought, ideas and people in their curriculum and research, on and off campus, inside and outside their classrooms, and on their faculty and staff.
Take a look at the 2019 lists of top 20 universities and top 10 graduate schools that continue to advance D&I, as named by the readers of Equal Opportunity magazine.
https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2009/08/12/why-does-diversity-matter-at-college-anyway, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education, https://educationusa.state.gov/foreign-institutions-and-governments/understanding-us-higher-education, https://he.kendallhunt.com/product/diversity-and-college-experience-research-based-strategies-appreciating-human-differences, https://www.slideshare.net/txgap/considering-diversity-experience-as-a-predictor-of-success-for-graduate-admissions, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/08/prweb2750144.htm, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/04/prweb2298824.htm, https://www.petersons.com/blog/Diversity-at-Colleges-and-Universities-through-Multicultural-Recruiting/, http://www.pwc.blogs.com/ceoinsights/2015/06/five-reasons-why-diversity-and-inclusion-matter.html
Top Schools Advance Diversity of Thought
Higher education has gone from an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion of secondary education to an almost mandatory stage of education - whether it’s at universities, colleges, and graduate schools, or at academies, seminaries, conservatories, institutes of technology, vocational schools, trade schools, and other career colleges that award academic degrees or professional certifications.
An advanced degree is especially expected among large Fortune 500 employers and large government agencies, which demand it of their job candidates and employees and encourage them to constantly update their education, become life-long learners and stay ahead of the trends.
In fact, earning at least an undergraduate degree - if not a master’s or doctoral degree - is key to national economies now, both as an industry all on its own, as well as a source of trained and educated personnel for the rest of the economy.
It’s also key to career advancement and achievement as college-educated employees have been increasingly commanding a measurable wage premium during the last several decades, even with the ebb and flow and ups and downs of the U.S. economy and the global economy.
Having an advanced degree that gives you a broad view of the world, and insight into a variety of points of view and ideas, and provides you with all-important critical thinking and problem-solving skills is key for job candidates in both an up economy, such as the one now, or a down economy as the one a decade ago during the Great Recession.
In either case higher education that emphasizes diversity of thought and advances the tenets of D&I provides job seekers with a competitive edge to get their foot in the door at companies who see and seek the value of a well-rounded graduates who can bring a fresh perspective to their business, and propel productivity, innovation, and processes forward in a hyper-competitive domestic and global marketplace.
Job seekers equipped with advanced degrees also seem to have more protection against unemployment because of their education level and skill sets that bolster their standing in the workplace.
The learning that takes place at universities and graduate schools is particularly important these days, where education is focused on theoretical and abstract elements, as well as applied aspects via internships and co-ops.
Employers in practically every profession want to hire graduates of universities and graduate programs. Again, they want to because of the critical thinking, analytical reasoning, teamwork, information literacy, ethical judgment, decision-making, problem-solving, and communication skills they learn, and their knowledge of liberal arts and sciences, and of their chosen majors and areas of concentration - everything from STEM to law, teaching, healthcare, and communications.
Compared to most other higher-education systems around the world, the U.S. system is largely independent from federal government regulation and is highly decentralized. The system is also incredibly diverse in that there are public institutions and private ones, very large and very small ones, secular and religiously affiliated ones, and urban, suburban, and rural ones. Such diversity means that there should be a “right fit” institution for every qualified student.
However, just as there’s diversity in the types of colleges, universities and graduate schools, the tenets of diversity and inclusion (D&I) have permeated the U.S. higher-education system for the better.
Many have learned that offering a diversified curriculum, student base, faculty and staff, and offering a diverse and inclusive learning environment result in better prepared, more open-minded and accepting students, graduates, and citizens who have a more expansive world view, and who can approach things more imaginatively and analytically, devise unique solutions, and push innovation.
In addition, having a diverse staff and faculty that are committed to creating and following a curriculum that embraces, teaches, and uncovers diversity of thought, diversity of people, and diversity of new ideas is fundamental for a university or graduate school seeking to incorporate the principles of D&I that are seen in corporate America, federal agencies and military branches, and the overall global business world.
If not for D&I, then students may lack the macro, worldwide view that many top employers and agencies in the public and private sectors expect.
Thus, it’s fair to say D&I in all aspects of post-secondary levels of education and beyond increases knowledge base, promotes creative thinking and enhances social development. And those institutions of higher education that value D&I and multiculturalism in their students, faculty and administrative staff will better prepare students for a global society.
As such, multiculturalism and diversity inside and outside of the classroom and on and off campus are vital to students’ college experience because it helps prepare them for the real world.
Furthermore, fostering, emphasizing and advancing D&I means that the campus is viewed as a welcoming and inclusive environment for anyone who wants to apply. Having an inclusive mission at an educational institution says something progressive and important about their campus, that they value diversity and will allow their students to express themselves as they see fit.
D&I is clearly more critical than ever on campuses across the country, so it’s with this in mind that Equal Opportunity magazine once again asked its readers as part of its 28th Annual Reader Survey, published in the Winter 2018/2019 issue, to name the top universities and graduate schools they believed offer a diversified curriculum, student base, faculty and staff, and foster a diverse and inclusive learning environment.
We compiled their answers into two lists - Top 20 Universities and the Top 10 Graduate Schools - in alphabetical order.
Read on for the alphabetical listings of the Top 20 Universities and the Top 10 Graduate Schools, as named by readers, for their commitment to advancing D&I and creating an inclusive learning environment.
https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/advancing-diversity-inclusion.pdf, https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/trends-in-higher-education-2019/, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2019/01/10/top-6-trends-in-higher-education/, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/05/16/coming-soon-sat-an-adversity-score-offering-snapshot-challenges-students-face
Narrowing the Gaps
Higher education is a key pathway for social mobility in the U.S. Which is why colleges and universities have implemented practices designed to meet the needs of their campuses to provide equitable, valuable experiences to students of color and low-income students.
In fact, to narrow the gaps in higher education between Caucasians and people of color and members of minority groups and diverse cultures, the Obama Administration encouraged institutions not only to attract and admit students from various backgrounds and experiences, but also to support and retain these students once on campus.
“The Obama Administration has worked to improve access to higher education, as well as to help more students complete their college educations and obtain quality degrees and credentials,” notes the 2016 report entitled Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education by the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Office of the Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education for the Obama Administration.
“Since the beginning of the Administration, the Department of Education has focused on making college more affordable and accessible to more students, including low-income students and students of color. However, the path forward will require a thoughtful discourse and a range of strategies.”
To that end, the Obama Administration also supported efforts by institutions of higher education to use legally permissible strategies to promote student body diversity on their campuses, including by issuing guidance and technical assistance to help institutions do so.
Strategies outlined in the report include the following:
Institutional Commitment to Promoting Student Body Diversity and Inclusion on Campus: Research shows that colleges and universities seeking to promote campus diversity identify how diversity relates to their core institutional mission and the unique circumstances of the institution. For example, mission statements and strategic plans that promote student body diversity and inclusion on campus establish priorities that can, in turn, lead institutions to allocate the necessary funds and resources for those purposes. Institutions are encouraged to consider building their capacity to collect and analyze the data required to set and track their diversity and inclusion goals.
Diversity across All Levels of an Institution: Research shows that campus leadership, including a diverse faculty, plays an important role in achieving inclusive institutions. For example, faculty members’ curricular decisions and pedagogy, including their individual interactions with students, can foster inclusive climates. Plus, students report that it’s important for them to see themselves reflected in the faculty and curriculum to which they’re exposed in order to create a sense of belonging and inclusiveness.
Outreach and Recruitment of Prospective Students: Institutions committed to student body diversity can take steps to improve outreach and recruitment to a diverse array of students. For instance, institutions often work to proactively develop relationships and provide support to the elementary and secondary schools that are located within communities surrounding the institution. Some strategies supported by research include comprehensive and on-going support from administrators and peers, peer-advising provided by similarly aged students, targeted support for critical steps such as completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and test prep, and exposure for students to college-level work while they’re in high school.
Support Services for Students: In general, student support services are associated with improved academic outcomes, including after students’ first years in college. Well-designed course-placement strategies mitigate the time students spend in remedial education without making progress toward a credential. Individualized mentoring and coaching can increase the odds that students remain enrolled in school. First-year experience programs, such as summer bridge programs that support incoming students, can improve academic achievement and credit-earning.
Inclusive Campus Climate: Students report less discrimination and bias at institutions where they perceive a stronger institutional commitment to diversity. Institutions are encouraged to develop and facilitate programming to increase the cultural competency of leadership, faculty, staff and students. Institutions are also encouraged to perform an assessment of their campus climate related to diversity in order to identify areas for improvement. Many institutions include cultural competency training in new student orientation and require that students take coursework in diversity as freshmen. Cultural and socio-emotional support systems like personal mentoring and counseling can help all students to thrive on campus, and are important for students who don’t comprise a racial or ethnic majority. Institutional leaders create support systems individualized to students’ needs that are highly visible and accessible, and engage students in the decision-making process regarding campus climate. Successful institutions also make financial support available to close the need gap for economically disadvantaged students.
“Through all of these strategies we can achieve the goal of preparing all of the nation’s students to be great citizens of the world and to compete in a global environment,” states the report.
More recently, chief diversity officers are meeting the demand for inclusivity at universities, colleges and graduate schools while higher-education institutions have implemented recruitment strategies that transform the prospective student experience, and are creating online programs, job-critical programs, pathway programs and competency-based education (CBE) programs that bridge the college-career gap to attract a broader student base.
And the College Board, a non-profit organization that owns the SAT, is developing an “overall disadvantage level,” known in admission circles as the “adversity score,” which will be a single number from 1 to 100. With 50 set as the average, under a formula established by the College Board, higher scores will indicate higher adversity. Colleges that use it will see the number on a template called an “environmental context dashboard,” which also includes data on Advanced Placement (AP) participation and SAT scores at the applicant’s high school.
The adversity score, which officials announced earlier this spring, will focus on social and economic factors associated with a student’s school and neighborhood, such as median family income, crime reports, housing circumstances, college attendance rates and parental education, according to the College Board. The formula doesn’t consider race, the College Board says, or individual data about a student’s family or financial circumstances.
The idea, according to the College Board, is to give admissions officers a deeper framework for considering SAT scores than the information high schools typically provide. A score of 1,400, out of a maximum 1,600, might look more impressive coming from a student with a higher adversity score compared with a peer who comes from relative privilege.
“The insight is in the judgment of the admissions office: ‘Wow, this score, given this context, that’s something I want to see,’” says David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board.
Sources: Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Office of the Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education’s Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education 2016 report, Hanover Research, The Brookings Institution and The Washington Post
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