"I use the Disability Resource Center every semester. They help me have an accessible classroom, tables and desk. They find a way for me to participate."
Valuing and Supporting People
The success of Missouri State University is on the shoulders of its people, so in many ways, people are our greatest resource. To become an employer of choice, we’ve:
- Made multiple small increases in the compensation packages for employees
- Expanded opportunities for faculty and staff to become more ingrained with the public affairs mission
- Implemented employee resource groups Bear Connection and the Bear Network
For our students to feel comfortable on campus, it's extremely important to push for an inclusive environment that fosters learning, growth and opportunity. We're committed to this, and it shows: In fall 2011, 2,323 students at Missouri State were from historically underrepresented groups. In fall 2015, that had grown to 2,726.
We believe that by striving for inclusive excellence and diversifying our student population and workforce, we can see our true potential.
The demands of the digital age
One way we support people is to give them what they need to do their jobs better – whether their job is as an administrator, staff, faculty or a student. And what does everyone need to do their job better? Access to updated technology.
These demands in infrastructure change all the time, but it’s our goal to meet current standards, and to keep information secure.
To meet the demands, several committees formed, including the Instructional Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC), comprised of key campus stakeholders, to make recommendations on instructional technology policies, procedures, funding and other improvements. An external security assessment was undertaken to determine potential areas of IT-related risk and an updated Disaster Recovery Plan was created to help ensure continuity of university operations in the case of disaster.
We also saw a need for increased access to computer labs, so open-access computer lab and help desk hours and staffing were increased to meet growing faculty and student demands.
The Disability Resource Center is a leader in the campus community, implementing universal design, providing access, toppling barriers and advocating for inclusion as a matter of social justice.
Diversity and inclusion
Missouri State University has focused on creating a healthy campus climate for many years because students learn better when they have a diverse student body and faculty, and their environment is free from negativity and discrimination.
To be more mindful of diversity in all decision-making processes on campus, we established the division for diversity and inclusion in 2011. We strive to model inclusive excellence by ensuring our initiatives and services intentionally engage and include the rich diversity of faculty, staff, students and community partners.
And it’s working! We have seen growth in all areas of underrepresented groups on our campus. We have seen growth in the attendance of the Statewide Collaborative Diversity Conference, and we even expanded it the past two years to include a full day’s worth of programming geared just for students.
During this five year period we:
- Utilized diversity hiring programs to employ several new faculty members
- Developed faculty diversity composition scholarship
- Awarded more than $5 million in diversity scholarships/assistantships
- Revised annual performance reviews to measure progress on diversity goals
- Continued to improve recruitment and retention of a diverse student body and workforce
- Created a mentoring program designed to improve recruitment and retention of university faculty and staff
- Conducted and evaluated the results of a climate survey
- Established the Faculty Diversity Composition Initiative, a loan forgiveness/reimbursement program to attract underrepresented students with ambition for collegiate instruction
Our efforts in the area were recognized with the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
The climate study
In March 2015, Missouri State University, along with DiversityWorks, Inc., completed a campus and community climate study, a 19-month undertaking. The study was completed in three sections (campus research, focus groups and community focus groups) to better understand the current state of affairs and to develop objectives for improving the climate. The study included several key recommendations, including:
- Developing and advancing community-university partnerships for diversity and inclusion
- Expanding multicultural research and other scholarly activities
- Developing effective and innovative outreach, recruitment and retention programs
- Being proactive in light of rapid demographic changes at the K-12 education levels.
With these recommendations in mind, Missouri State will continue to improve the campus climate in the next five years.