History and Achievements

The Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) leads the university in fulfilling its commitment to be a diverse campus that is enriched and informed by the personal, cultural, and intellectual differences of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The office offers a variety of programming that underscores this mission. For example, OID is the administrative home of the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PSLSAMP, NSF-1619689). PSLSAMP is a collaboration of six public higher education institutions in the state of Georgia that provide a diverse mix of academic strengths and capabilities. The participating institutions are the University of Georgia (UGA, lead institution) Fort Valley State University (FVSU), Georgia Perimeter College (GPC), Georgia Institute of Technology (GT), Kennesaw State University (KSU) – Kennesaw and Marietta campuses, and Savannah State University (SSU). From 2008-2014, the Peach State LSAMP saw a 94% increase in numbers of underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduates graduating when STEM degrees (81% increase at UGA alone) and 253% increase in numbers of LSAMP alumni who enrolled in graduate school. In 2017, UGA was awarded support for a Bridges to the Doctorate program (B2D, NSF-1702361). The B2D program provides support for 12 URM students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) during the transition into graduate school. In 2015-16, OID conducted a Campus Climate Survey, which invited faculty, staff, and students to provide their perspectives on inclusivity at UGA. At present, OID is spearheading efforts to act on issues identified in the survey. To this end, OID has issued a request for proposals addressing “New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion” and expects to invest $250 million dollars in this program during the 2017-18 academic year.

The UGA Graduate School offers several programs that address recruitment and retention of underrepresented graduate students. The UGA Graduate Feeder program provides a supportive transition for undergraduate students as they learn about applying to graduate school and as they transition into graduate training at UGA. The Feeder Program includes four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU): Albany State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University (FVSU), and Spelman College. Benefits of participation in the UGA Graduate Feeder program include an application fee waiver to the University of Georgia Graduate School and consideration for a graduate school assistantship if admitted to the University of Georgia. Each fall, the Graduate School hosts the Preparing Diverse Populations for Graduate Admissions event for students in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, UGA Feeder Program, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, the LSAMP Program, and the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program. This one-day interactive program provides participants with the opportunity to explore the advantages of applying to graduate school, learn how to construct a compelling personal statement, obtain advice on creating a graduate school resume or CV, learn insider tips on how to score competitively on the GRE, speak with current students about their graduate school experience, and learn essential strategies to secure graduate school funding. The annual Future Scholars Visitation Program allows underrepresented undergraduates to visit UGA and their academic departments of interest. The program targets current undergraduate seniors, masters and/or professional students, and graduates from colleges and universities across the U.S., including (HBCU) and graduate preparation programs. Future Scholars Visitation is a three-day event that provides the opportunity for participants to meet academic administrators, discuss program and research interests with department faculty, network with current and other prospective graduate students, and participate in workshops about admissions, research, and funding opportunities. The UGA Graduate School covers participants’ lodging and most meals during the program and provides reimbursement for travel expenses. All selected participants will receive an application fee waiver for their UGA graduate school application.

UGA has also taken the lead on a number of programs specifically aimed at diversifying the workforce in STEM disciplines, including the biomedical sciences. Six Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer programs are available on campus. Although not exclusively focused on diversity, each of these programs has developed specific outreach efforts to engage students from underrepresented groups. PREP@UGA is a post-baccalaureate program (funded by NIGMS), focused on infectious diseases and aimed at enhancing training and increasing the number of underrepresented PhD students in this important biomedical discipline. As noted above, the PSLAMP and B2D programs target URM undergraduate and graduate students (respectively) in STEM.

UGA’s commitment to diverse students does not end when they are admitted. UGA was recently cited in Diverse Issues in Education as number 9 in the nation for the awarding of PhDs to African Americans (4th among non-HBCU and not for profit institutions. The Gateway to Graduate School Bridge Program allows incoming underrepresented graduate students to begin their graduate education at UGA in the summer semester rather than the fall, with the intention of providing students with an intellectual, professional, and social introduction to UGA. Participants are nominated by their departments and register for three credit hours of directed study or a didactic course in their home departments. In addition, the Graduate School provides mentorship, socialization opportunities, and seminars focused on such topics as resources for graduate students, time management skills, study strategies, writing research papers, etc. During the fall semester, the Graduate Retention Opportunities Workshops (GROW) that provide programming to support transition of URM graduate students who matriculate in the fall term. In addition, UGA has several student organizations that support retention of URM graduate students. Graduate and Professional Scholars (GAPS) provides a variety of professional development and networking opportunities for graduate students in all disciplines. Among its signature events is the annual Mary Francis Early Lecture, which honors the first African American to earn a graduate degree at UGA. Graduate Research Assistants Diversifying STEM (GRADS) specifically targets URM graduate students in STEM and offers activities focused around professional development, recruitment/ retention, and social support of its participants.

Over the past four years, UGA has been awarded the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. This award recognizes institutions that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion.

Proposed Plans

UGA-Specific Opportunities: We will continue to use the Graduate Feeder, Preparing Diverse Populations for Graduate School, and Future Scholar Visitation programs as mechanisms to showcase our outstanding graduate programs to potential applicants from underrepresented groups. We will also take advantage of a new program, which has recently been funded through the NSF-INCLUDES initiative (NSF-1649226). Through this program UGA collaborates with FVSU, Florida International University, SSU, and Clark Atlanta University to provide students with the opportunity to spend one semester at UGA during their undergraduate training. We will use the annual Peach State LSAMP symposium as another mechanism to showcase UGA research opportunities to potential applicants. The six UGA REU programs share a capstone activity and we will use that venue to engage with potential applicants. In addition, the Graduate School hosts an “introduction to graduate school” event for REU students, which focuses strategies for applying to graduate school.

Regional and National Meetings: The Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives division of the graduate school attends other regional recruitment fairs and visits the campuses of regional HBCUs each fall. Recognizing that competitive candidates choose their graduate programs based on research opportunities, UGA faculty will continue to seek out minority candidates at their national meetings and provide them with information about the program. The UGA Graduate School will continue to offer support for faculty to participate in several regional meetings that provide opportunities to meet and network with potential applicants. Representatives from the Graduate School and participating departments attend the annual meetings of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).

Links with the Minority Affairs Committees of National Scientific Societies: The dean of the Graduate School serves on the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and has contacts with the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology. We will take advantage of these connections to identify rising stars on the national level and recruit them to graduate programs at UGA.

Most recently updated: October 2017

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