Diversity and Inclusion

Graduate cheering


Missouri State University will be a university of choice and opportunity for all students, a beacon for diversity locally and nationally, and a university that welcomes all forms of diversity.

Achieving greater diversity and inclusion will attract an expanded pool of talented individuals to campus. It will improve decision-making because divergent points of view lead to a broader range of ideas and better outcomes. It will enrich the entire university experience for students and better prepare them to interact effectively with colleagues, competitors, customers and citizens of varied backgrounds.

That is just part of the compelling case for diversity and inclusion. It describes why Missouri State is renewing its unwavering commitment to make progress in both areas, and it is the reason achieving greater diversity is one of the university’s core values. To succeed in this effort, Missouri State knows it must demonstrate resolve, creativity and courage.

At its core, diversity and inclusion is about having respect for all individuals. Of course, diversity and inclusion are moral and ethical issues. It has been proven, however, that increasing diversity and inclusion also is a business best practice for both public and private organizations.

Creating a climate of inclusive excellence

To achieve inclusive excellence, the university must value, engage and celebrate the rich diversity that faculty, staff, students and alumni bring to campus. To succeed, the university must create a campus climate where students and faculty feel wanted, needed, included and safe. It is vital to create a climate that ensures all members of the campus community are just as comfortable maintaining their own individual and cultural identities as they are having candid conversations about diversity and inclusion. Those discussions can be difficult and often require courage, but in the end they can lead to positive change.

Through the climate study, the university has taken the first step in establishing a baseline and identifying key issues. The university will use the climate study results, best practices and other research and tools to make the campus and its programs even more welcoming. Implementing these changes is a key element of the long-range plan for 2016-21.

It is not only the climate on campus that matters. The climate of Springfield and the Ozarks also is crucial to achieving greater diversity and inclusion. Missouri State willingly accepts its leadership role to make the local and regional climate more welcoming.

Diversity and inclusion in the broadest sense

Missouri State defines diversity and inclusion in the broadest possible terms.

Diversity includes individual differences such as personality, learning styles and life experiences. It also includes group/social differences, such as race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin and disabilities, as well as cultural, political, religious or other affiliations, such as veteran and socioeconomic status. Moreover, each of us has more than one identity, and Missouri State will continue to support and advocate for the intersecting identities of all its community members, whatever those intersections might entail.

Inclusion describes the active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity in ways that increase awareness, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. This is accomplished through people, within curricular and co-curricular programs, and in various communities in which individuals might connect: intellectual, social, cultural and geographic.

Keys to success

To be effective, programming expanding diversity and inclusion must be added and woven throughout the entire academic curriculum, not only in specialized courses and programs.

Both cultural consciousness and competency will be critical to the success of the university in creating inclusive excellence on campus and in the community. As the diversity of the student body increases, Missouri State will provide support for students, particularly those who are underprepared for college, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and students from other historically underrepresented groups.

Moreover, it is important for groups of diverse students, faculty and staff to interact with one another. Engaging with others about those differences and celebrating those differences will produce awareness and understanding.

All of these initiatives will help recruit, develop and retain diverse faculty, staff and students. University personnel, particularly leaders, will be held accountable for furthering these goals.

Strategic priorities

  • To be true to its values and achieve its goals, the university will embrace diversity in all its forms.
  • The university will embrace a system-wide approach to create an environment where all groups and individuals can thrive and achieve academic and personal success.
  • The university will develop accountability measures for supporting diversity and inclusion throughout the university system.
  • Missouri State University will lead by example in promoting inclusiveness within the community, region and state.
  • The university embraces curricular transformation as an approach to ensure that its undergraduate and graduate students have knowledge and competencies related to diversity and inclusion.

University goals

  • Enhance efforts to attract and retain historically underrepresented groups, as well as other diverse groups (e.g., first generation, low income, veterans, disabled, international, etc.) of students, faculty and staff so all can succeed.
  • Support initiatives to encourage discussion of, and appreciation for, differences.
  • Implement effective training and/or professional development to increase cultural consciousness/competence in diversity and inclusiveness for students, faculty and staff.
  • Ensure academic programs incorporate diversity into the curriculum and co-curricular activities.
  • Collaborate with other major businesses, institutions and organizations in the region to promote, create and value opportunities for diversity and inclusion.

Performance indicators

  • Enrollment
  • Student success
  • Quality of student learning
  • Faculty/staff