KSU launches new diversity plan

Rachel Abbey

In time of transition, Kent State looks to diversify instead of stall

As Kent State prepares for its transition between leaders, it is important to progress and push forward, said Steve Michael, vice provost of diversity and academic initiatives.

He has been working on the university’s updated strategic plan for diversity.

“It is good to have a university that is active and moving, not one that is stalling and slipping,” Michael said.

The plan lists goals and objectives for ways the university can improve different areas related to diversity, such as recruiting and retaining a diverse community, creating a welcoming environment and providing a model for other institutions.

The university will use the plan until about 2010, Michael said. The previous plan ended this year.

The Strategic Diversity Implementation Plan works with the university’s overall strategic plan for operations and academics, Provost Paul Gaston said.

“They’re linked closely, but the diversity strategic plan develops further the emphasis in the strategic plan relating to the world that we serve,” he said. “One of the priorities is that, really, the entire university community needs to be mobilized and prepared for an active role in this commitment to diversity.”

This kind of priority needs everyone’s cooperation, and a plan helps to coordinate those efforts, Gaston said. In the early stages, diversity planning needed strong leadership. That is why the university created Michael’s position, he said. This updated plan takes the focus from leadership to university-wide participation in increasing diversity.

Gaston said diversity at Kent State has been growing and changing during his time here. Each year, the university starts on a new program, such as those to encourage diversity in hiring and retention among faculty.

President Carol Cartwright said she made diversity a priority when she came to the university 15 years ago by starting a committee to find out what diversity meant to Kent State. This plan broadly defines it to include a range of differences in areas, such as economic status and age, as well as more traditionally thought of categories, such as race.

While the plan offers guidelines, the details are left intentionally vague so departments can adapt their policies the way they want, Michael said.

“The strength of a good plan is to recognize the diversity of departments and for each to provide the flexibility of activities that are unique to those units,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].