Commission recommends action steps to president

Chris Wilcox
Staff writer

The Commission on Diversity and Inclusion has recommended five action steps from the Diversity Plan to President Randy Dunn.

Sonya Baker, chair of the commission, said the five recommendations made were decided upon because they could be done without relying on too much funding and they could be implemented relatively quickly.

Governor Steve Beshear announce Jan. 17 there were to be cuts to the budget across the state. One of the cuts being discussed is in public universities, which were suggested to see 6.4 percent cuts as of next year.

These cuts to Universities may impact what can be done in regards to the action steps of the Murray State Diversity Plan.

The Council on Postsecondary Education voted last Fall to approve all the Diversity Plans at each University. Following the approval, each diversity plan was to become active. For this reason the commission has been having meetings in order to get the plan going. The commission decided the best way to tackle the goal of implementing the plan was to make recommendations and priorities tackling a piece of the plan at a time.

“Our suggestions will go to the President who may or may not implement the action steps,” Baker said. “We are purely an advisory body.”

The five recommendations all affect the campus climate. The purpose of them is to make the University more diverse and inclusive.

A Respect for All campaign was among the recommendations. The goal of the campaign is to provide training and workshops for faculty and staff to raise awareness on diversity and inclusion. The commission recommended the campaign be implemented by the Fall semester.

Another recommendation was to advance establishment of an LGBT Resource Center. Faculty and student petitions have supported this recommendation, voted on by the commission. Implementation was also recommended for the Fall.

Jody Cofer, Academic Program Specialist, said an LGBT Resource Center would be responsible for coordinating programs and campus-based services that contribute to the enrichment of the LGBT community and broader University community as a whole.

An exit interview process for faculty and staff by Human Resources has also been recommended. This interview process will be more in-depth than in previous times.

“This interview process will hopefully allow the University a chance to see why the faculty and staff are leaving,” Baker said. “With that information hopefully we will be able to determine how to keep them.”

The commission also recommended financial backing for the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Emerging Scholars Institute and the Parents Advisory Council.

According to the Appendix section of the Diversity Plan, the Emerging Scholars Institute is designed to assist students in making their academic and social transition from high school to college and beyond. The Parents Advisory Council is a select group of parents serve for two years on the council, which meets twice a semester. MPAC serves as a forum for parents to keep officials informed about the needs of multicultural parents.

Lastly, the commission recommended the adequate funding of the Racer Advantage Grant. This grant would benefit students identified in the low socioeconomic category.

“These five recommendations do not focus on one specific group of people,” Baker said. “The purpose is to make the University more diverse and inclusive for all.”

Baker said other offices would implement the recommendations made to President Dunn.

With the top five recommendations made, Baker said the next phase will be to prioritize all of the other action steps in the Diversity Plan.