The Murray State Board of Regents unanimously approved the University Diversity Plan at its quarterly meeting Friday.
Approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education’s Committee on Equal Opportunity last month, the document now awaits a full CPE review two years after a council mandate called for each public state university to implement a plan.
As boards across the state begin submitting their plans, the CPE will review and either accept or deny each plan.
The document presents a five-year plan of strategies the University will take to promote diversity on campus. Colleges, departments and administrative positions are listed in the 60-page document and are advised on how to promote diversity to their superiors, staff and students.
It calls on four specific areas to which the plan will apply – student body diversity, student success, workforce diversity and campus climate.
Written by the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, it was developed through near-weekly meetings, open forums and classroom visits, the document states.
As regents and audience members crowded the hallway outside the room in which the vote was held Friday, two smiling faces remained still in the surge of shaking hands and backslapping.
Commission Co-chairs Jody Cofer and S.G. Carthell, who guided the plan through each of its phases, agreed that a policy of this magnitude takes a certain process to come into fruition
“It’s another step forward,” Cofer said of the vote. “It’s been a long process.”
Carthell said while work remains he looks forward to continuing work with the Commission.
“It’s a testament of what we’re trying to do here at Murray State, as far as moving in the right direction,” he said. “Now the work starts toward pulling the concepts of the plan together.”
Carthell said it has been his long-time passion that defining people by anything except what they are – people – should end.
“I have a philosophy, and that is that students come to Murray State and they want to be students,” he said. “And everything we can do to make a student wake up in the morning and just feel like a student, not a black student or a white student or an LGBT student or an international student. Anything we can do that will create an environment where when someone wakes up in the morning, they’re just a Racer.”
Cofer said the hard work on the part of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion will not end with the passage of the plan. With CPE approval of the document, the commission plans to remain a decision-making body of campus leaders, helping push different action steps, he said.
“The Commission itself had a charge to develop the new Diversity Plan, but the other part is to implement it,” he said. “So we’ve got to have conversations with the president around what he wants that to look like.”
Cofer said a timeline addressing each issue and giving those issues the appropriate time to develop will be a soon-to-come next step on the part of the Commission.
Prior to Friday’s vote, Dunn addressed the Board. He said an initiative like the Diversity Plan is necessary to pull in the support of all levels and all people Murray State encompasses.
Said Dunn: “I really do think this can change the face of the University.”