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Diversity Plan: The University of Montana

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Context Statement

The University of Montana understands that success as an excellent institution of higher education requires a culture that encourages and supports diversity.  The University also recognizes that, as citizens in the global community, we must foster a greater understanding of cultures and perspectives different from our own.  As a living document the Diversity Plan provides ongoing guidance to The University as it continues to embrace and enhance diversity in the student population; among faculty, staff, and administrators; in educational and cultural programming; and in every activity on campus.

The University first established an institutional diversity plan focused on cultural and ethnic diversity in 1991.  Under its guidance, the campus made significant strides in cultural and ethnic diversity.  Nonetheless, an even broader understanding of the construct will result in more benefits to the campus.  To that end, President George M. Dennison established a Task Force in 2009 to propose revisions to the Diversity Plan.  The revised Plan contains a broader definition of diversity and outlines specific strategies to achieve specific diversity goals throughout the University.  Finally, the Plan includes metrics to assess the University’s progress in achieving the stated goals.

The Montana Creed – or Statement of Principles – articulates the commitment of The University of Montana to institutional integrity.  The Creed encourages the campus community to reflect and commit to creating a culture of respect and integrity.  The Montana Creed provides the foundation for the Strategic Directions of the University.  The Diversity Plan implements the Montana Creed.

The Montana Creed: Statement of Principles

As members of The University of Montana community, we aspire to:

  • Respect the dignity and rights of all persons.
  • Practice honesty, trustworthiness, and academic integrity.
  • Promote justice, learning, individual success, and service.
  • Act as good stewards of institutional resources.
  • Respect the natural environment.

Law and Policy

The Diversity Plan is consistent with the Board of Regents Minority Achievement Policy 1902, as well as Article X, Section 1 of the Montana Constitution of 1972 and Montana statutory law regarding Indian Education for All:  http://mus.edu/borpol/bor1900/1902.pdf; http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/mca/ Constitution/X/1.htm; http://www.mus.edu/asa/docs/Plan_IEFA.pdf.

Nothing in this Diversity Plan infringes on academic freedom:  http://www.umt.edu/ufa/documents/UFACBA.pdf

Definition of Diversity

The following definition of diversity does not limit but provides a context for this Plan.

The University of Montana seeks to enhance diversity by recognizing and embracing the differences in age, ideas and perspectives, disabilities, creed, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, national origin, race, religious and spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, and the socioeconomic and geographic composition of its faculty, administrative professionals, staff, and students.

In its effort to enhance diversity, The University of Montana recognizes that particular focused effort must be placed on including members of groups who have historically been subject to discrimination and are still underrepresented in the campus community.

Strategic Choice 1: Enhance the campus culture of understanding, respect, support, and advancement of diversity.

Goal 1.1: Provide leadership and support for continuous improvement of diversity.

Action Item 1.1.1: Disseminate annual statements promoting diversity as a primary measure of excellence at UM.

Action Item 1.1.2: Create at the college and school levels, the executive office level, and in subunits as appropriate and practicable, diversity action plans and annually report on progress toward meeting diversity goals.

Action Item 1.1.3: Address in program review instructions and other performance expectation documents contributions to diversity.

Action Item 1.1.4: Maintain a program that provides awards to faculty members, staff, and students as well as Departments to recognize and encourage diversity efforts. 

Action Item 1.1.5: Host at least one opportunity annually for employees within the Unit or Department to participate in diversity-related training or activity.

Action Item 1.1.6: Disseminate and publicize an annual progress report to campus and to the Board of Regents for meeting the goals set forth in the Diversity Plan. 

Goal 1.2: Increase visibility of diversity at The University of Montana.

Action Item 1.2.1: Assign a visible and central unit to gather, analyze, and disseminate diversity-related information.

Action Item 1.2.2: Enhance the UM Diversity Web presence as a clearinghouse for all UM diversity-related information, linked from the UM home page, and encourage Departments and Units to link to the Diversity home page.

Action Item 1.2.3: Encourage Departments and Units to publicize diversity-related activities.

Action Item 1.2.4: Ensure a commitment to diversity in all existing and future strategic plans from Departments, Units, and task forces across campus.

Action Item 1.2.5: Increase awareness of UM’s commitment as an institution of choice for those who wish to work and study in an inclusive and richly diverse environment through press releases and other media avenues.

Action Item 1.2.6: Publicize and celebrate diversity awardees and grant recipients through annual awards ceremonies and a variety of campus announcements.

Action Item 1.2.7: Establish a subcommittee of the campus master planning committee charged with making UM grounds/buildings more welcoming by highlighting diversity in the constructed environment and public art.

Action Item 1.2.8: Establish a campus walking tour of buildings, structures, monuments, and open spaces that reflect diversity.

Goal 1.3: Implement a strategy for every new student and new employee at The University of Montana to begin their university experience with an understanding of the richness and importance of a diverse learning and working environment.

Action Item 1.3.1: Provide opportunities for new students to learn about current campus diversity initiatives and programs available to them.

Action Item 1.3.2: Provide opportunities for new employees to learn about current campus diversity initiatives and programs available to them.

Action Item 1.3.3: Offer workshops about diversity issues that minority employees face in the work environment.

Goal 1.4: Engage in the national dialogue regarding higher education diversity initiatives.

Action Item 1.4.1: Participate in organizations such as the American Council on Education, Council of Minorities in Higher Education, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Action Item 1.4.2: Engage in a collaborative network with diversity officers at peer institutions that focus on learning from one another.

Goal 1.5: Provide resources and opportunities for staff, students, and faculty to safely report on diversity-related issues.

Action Item 1.5.1: Create and publicize forms for reporting complaints about bias, harassment, and discrimination.  Make user-friendly forms and related information available on UM Web sites.

Action Item 1.5.2: Make professional mediation services available to faculty, staff, and students, with mediators trained in cultural sensitivity and able to resolve campus community disputes.

Metric 1.5.2.a: Assess effectiveness of mediation services through surveys of mediators and participants.

Metric 1.5.2.b: Assess ease of access to and confidence in mediation services through retention of data on number of requests for mediation services per year.

Strategic Choice 2: Create avenues for access to the academy and for success within the academy for all individuals, and particularly populations historically underrepresented in the academy.

Goal 2.1: Increase recruitment and enrollment of students from historically underrepresented populations.

Metric 2.1.a: Assess increase in enrollment rates of these underrepresented populations by annual reporting to compare rates from year to year and to compare to the growth rate in total UM enrollment.

Goal 2.2: Enable seamless transfer of historically underrepresented students to the University.

Metric 2.2.a: Assess increase of enrollment rates of historically underrepresented transfer students from two-year programs, out-of-state, other four-year-programs, and Tribal Colleges by annual reporting to compare rates from year to year and to compare to the growth rate in total UM enrollment to previous years.

Metric 2.2.b: Assess increase of enrollment rates of historically underrepresented transfer students from the College of Technology by annual reporting to compare rates from year to year.

Goal 2.3:   Increase retention and graduation rates of cohorts of new first-year students from historically underrepresented populations.

Metric 2.3.a: Assess increase in retention and graduation rates of new first-year students as members of historically underrepresented populations by annual reporting to compare rates from year to year.

Goal 2.4: Increase the percentage of graduate and professional degrees awarded to students from historically underrepresented populations.

Metric 2.4.a: Assess increase in percentage of graduate and professional degrees awarded to students who are members of historically underrepresented populations by annual reporting to compare rates from year to year.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.1: Continue support of Minority and International Admissions Counselors in Enrollment Services and campus visit opportunities for underrepresented student populations.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.2: Cultivate and strengthen partnership with Tribal Colleges to facilitate successful transfer from Tribal Colleges to 4-year and graduate degree programs at UM.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.3: Endorse and support adequate funding of Partnering for Student Success, UM’s plan to improve retention and graduation rates of all students.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.4: Assure adequate financial support for student services that serve historically underrepresented populations.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.5: Maximize utilization of externally funded programs which promote retention and graduation of historically underrepresented students in specific disciplines.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.6: Establish increased financial resources for both need- and merit-based financial aid to attract and retain students from underrepresented backgrounds as a development priority.

Action Item 2.1–2.4.7: Endorse and support specific efforts in the Graduate School and in specific graduate-level programs that promote the recruitment, retention, and degree completion of underrepresented graduate students.

Goal 2.5: Recruit and hire faculty and staff from historically underrepresented populations to achieve meaningful representation.

Action Item 2.5.1: Create incentive plans for recruiting and hiring faculty and staff from historically underrepresented populations at UM.

Metric 2.5.1.a: Assess increase in the representation of historically underrepresented populations as part of the faculty and staff by annual reporting to compare rates from year to year.

Goal 2.6: Ensure retention of faculty and staff from historically underrepresented populations.

Action Item 2.6.1: Engage UM faculty in mentoring newly hired faculty within their respective Departments.  Build mentoring components into Department and program duties and recognize and reward duties.

Action Item 2.6.2: Engage UM classified staff in mentoring newly hired staff within their respective Departments.  Build mentoring components into Department and program duties and recognize and reward duties.

Action Item 2.6.3: Provide professional development support opportunities to new employees as well as encourage participation in skill building trainings.

Action Item 2.6.4: Develop initiatives that include programs to train managers and supervisors on diversity-related issues.

Action Item 2.6.5: Obtain data on the reasons individuals from historically underrepresented populations leave the UM work force for use in improving retention strategies. (Exit interviews)

Metric 2.6.5.a: Assess retention of faculty and staff from historically underrepresented populations through annual reporting of attrition as compared to overall UM attrition rates.

Action Item 2.6.6: Offer communities of support for underrepresented groups of faculty and staff on campus.

Goal 2.7: Ensure accessible teaching, learning, and work environments.

Action Item 2.7.1: Regularly monitor compliance with and provide education about appropriate accessibility guidelines and best practices.

Goal 2.8: Ensure supportive teaching, learning, and work environments for all identified diversity groups.

Action Item 2.8.1: Collect and report data on members of the campus community who identify as members of the defined diversity groups.

Action Item 2.8.2: Endorse and support programs that strengthen collaboration with diverse communities, businesses, organizations, Montana University System institutions, and Tribal Colleges in Montana.

Strategic Choice 3: Educate and prepare students to contribute and thrive in a multicultural society.

Goal 3.1: Define multicultural competencies for students and mechanisms to achieve such competencies.

Action Item 3.1.1: Endorse and support inclusion of diversity and global knowledge requirement in General Education requirements.

Action Item 3.1.2: Endorse and support inclusion of courses that include diversity and global knowledge in course content.

Metric 3.1.2.a: Assess the number of students who enroll in diversity or global courses each semester.

Metric 3.1.2.b: Assess the number of students who participate in a study-abroad or exchange experience.

Action Item 3.1.3: Endorse and support UM’s commitment in its educational goals to the preservation of the unique cultural heritage of American Indians.  [hyperlink: Coordinate and complement efforts with the Native American and Indigenous Education Strategic Plan.]

Goal 3.2: Develop and implement a comprehensive system of diversity education and training for faculty.

Action Item 3.2.1: Provide opportunities for faculty to participate in course development workshops that focus on integrating diversity into the curriculum.

Action Item 3.2.2: Develop and strengthen the scholarly resources and infrastructure necessary to support the highest level of inclusive teaching, research, outreach, and service activities.

Goal 3.3: Ensure a teaching and learning environment that teaches tolerance and respect for diversity.

Action Item 3.3.1: Engage the University community in dialogue and action around the diversity of thought, expression, ideology, and culture.

Metric 3.3.1.a: Assess engagement of campus community in Day of Dialogue.

Action Item 3.3.2: Endorse and support speakers on diversity topics in campus lecture series and forums.

Action Item 3.3.3: Encourage and reward collaborative scholarship socially responsive to the needs of underserved communities.

Goal 3.4: Increase awareness of the value of diversity through residential, campus, and co-curricular activities.

Action Item 3.4.1: Provide diversity awareness components in training of all faculty, staff, and students who advise, mentor, and supervise other students.

Action Item 3.4.2: Increase participation in Day of Dialogue.

Action Item 3.4.3: Increase proposals for Diversity Advisory Council student mini-grants.

Strategic Choice 4: Develop an organizational structure to ensure implementation, evaluation, and periodic renewal of strategic choices 1 – 3.

Goal 4.1: Develop a line of responsibility for assessing and implementing annual diversity activities and reports.

Goal 4.2: Conduct periodic climate surveys of students, faculty, and staff to assess progress on maintaining a teaching, learning, and working environment that welcomes and respects diversity.

Goal 4.3: Develop a timeline and strategy for regular review and revision of the strategic choices 1-3 and implementation of strategies and goals.