Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (May 20, 2010) – Inver Hills Community College has received the Minnesota State College and Universities Office of the Chancellor Award for Outstanding Diversity Program for its campus diversity plan.
The award recognizes that IHCC has implemented, nurtured, and evaluated a comprehensive diversity plan to foster a culture of inclusiveness for all individuals. The school states that profound changes in diversity have occurred at IHCC, requiring that the college confront and resolve inequities through diversity initiatives that involve all sectors of the campus community, including administrative priorities; organizational commitment; faculty and staff development, and student learning and community outreach.
“We are particularly proud of this award because it acknowledges the involvement of the entire campus community: faculty/staff professional development through creative workshops, innovative programming to foster success among diverse student groups, embedding awareness and cultural competency into our curricula, and special activities in order to prepare our students to thrive in a global workplace and economy, ” says Dr. Barbara Read, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
“Also, our number of diverse students has grown to 21 percent of our student body in recent years, and their success rates have also risen. Success measures for students of color and Caucasian students are virtually identical,” she added.
Diversity plan priorities have been sustained in multiple ways. One example is a targeted recruitment program that culminates in a tuition-free summer bridge program.
While learning communities are open to all students, over 70 percent of participants are underrepresented. Retention rates for students of color and other underrepresented students in learning communities consistently exceed the college’s retention of all first-year students.
The college’s Foundation raised over $600,000 from local foundations to fund these and related initiatives to recruit and retain underrepresented students. As external foundation funds have diminished, IHCC has allocated college resources to sustain these programs.
IHCC has also sought grant opportunities to support innovative programs for underrepresented middle/high school students. In partnership with Century College, Inver Hills received funding in 2008 to establish an Access and Opportunity Center of Excellence.
The college created a multi-faceted, research-based array of programs and services that has already impacted over 400 underrepresented students. These include PACE (college credit program for high school students); college awareness activities for middle school students (E2 Educational Excellence program); and iConnect (Summer Bridge program).
Center of Excellence programs are based on strong partnerships with ten school districts, Century College, and four state universities. A tangible outcome of these efforts is a 28 percent increase in underrepresented students enrolling at Inver Hills, from Fall 2008-Fall 2009. This was one of the largest increases among all Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system institutions. More specifically, the number of students of color has increased by 58 percent between Fiscal Year 2005-2009.
The Diversity Council composed of the President, faculty, staff, students, and administrators, functions through action-oriented subcommittees. The Council advocated with faculty/administration to include measures of participation and success for underrepresented students in the formal program review for academic departments.
The Diversity Council collaborates with the Affirmative Action Officer and Human Resources to promote the diversity hiring plan. Examples include increased employment advertising in publications/websites representing diverse communities; diverse membership on search teams; and diversity-related items on the required employee Performance Evaluation.
Inver Hills Diversity Council offers in-depth training on diversity-related topics for all faculty during required Professional Development Days. The training is also presented at required staff development days. Session topics have focused on promoting success for African-American males, immigrant students, GLBT students, students with disabilities, veterans, and students in poverty. Members of the Diversity Council presented the Inver Hills model for faculty/staff training at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Student Affairs Conference.
Inver Hills promotes equitable education and social engagement with diverse populations. A strength of Inver Hills is the collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Life.
Through a unique partnership with the St. Paul Fire Department, Inver Hills created an EMS Academy for low income students of color in fall 2009. Two cohorts of students have completed training in basic EMT skills, and four are now enrolled in the college’s Paramedic program.
In addition to student learning outcomes, Inver Hills promotes social engagement and community outreach through strong Service Learning and Student Life programs. www.inverhills.edu