Inclusive Excellence Driving University Success

Inclusive excellence

Inclusive excellence driving university success


Intro to inclusive excellence scenario

Inclusive Excellence defined

Inclusive Excellence, as defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), is the active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity — in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum and in communities — in ways that increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.


Focus area one

Cultural consciousness

Missouri State is committed to being a culturally conscious leader in the Springfield community. It will deliver education, training and growth opportunities to the campus and beyond – keys to developing engaged citizens and diverse workplaces.


Diversity is real and it is growing.

Diverse populations make up about 23% of the United States. As the nation and state become more racially and ethnically diverse, how will Missouri State continue to provide access to educational opportunities?

At Missouri State diverse populations also include veterans, people with disabilities, first generation students and LGBTQ+ among others.

How will it prepare students to work together in a diverse environment?

IE programs reaching the community and beyond

  • Facing Racism Institute
  • Collaborative Diversity Conference
  • United Academy for Inclusion and Belonging

Future focus

As a leader in the community and the state, Missouri State will usher in a new generation of citizens who value and support equity and justice.

Missouri State will be an environment that:

  • Engages the rich diversity of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners.
  • Fosters a strong sense of belonging.
  • Is welcoming of opinions and viewpoints.
  • Challenges each student to achieve academically high levels.
  • Offers a personalized system of support to overcome barriers to education.



Big ideas

  • Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities allow students to apply undergraduate credit toward a master’s degree at Missouri State.

Campus and community benefit from diversity partnerships

Marcus is a graduate student in the College of Business pursuing his MBA with a focus in management. His goal is to work in human resources.

Marcus is among a growing number of graduate students on campus who are maximizing their educational options through Missouri State’s partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Marcus gained his undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University. During his junior year, he became aware that he could apply Tuskegee business courses toward MSU’s accelerated MBA program. This shaved a year of time and expense from his educational journey.

Since moving to the Springfield area, Marcus has built a diverse network through the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), the student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the MSU Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Marcus’ connection to the diversity and inclusion team opened the door to a range of university resources and opportunities beyond the classroom.

His mentors from SAAB and diversity and inclusion connected Marcus with leadership at City Utilities, where he secured a paid internship. Marcus is working toward becoming a hiring manager in the human resources unit of CU. He’s excited at the prospect of staying in the community he has grown to love and being a part of a company that supports a vibrant workforce of highly qualified diverse employees.


Focus area two

Moving from grassroots to a culture of caring and belonging

In 2009, Missouri State declared inclusiveness as one of the university’s top priorities. From its grass-roots efforts, the university has worked to enhance the culture of campus and the Springfield community. It has demonstrated an attitude that recognizes the value and contributions of all members of the community.

But more is to be done.



Missouri State values inclusiveness, fairness, equity and social justice; the recognition that each person possesses not just one, but multiple identities; and the celebration of the similarities, as well as the differences, of our diverse campus.
Source: Missouri State University Mission, Vision and Values

Advance findings of campus climate study

Building on the principal findings of the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey, Missouri State will work to raise the participation in – and positive responses to – annual polls, especially in the undergraduate student population where only 9% participated in the first year.

The 2,723 who responded to the survey make up:

  • 9% of undergraduate students
  • 18% of graduate students
  • 40% of faculty
  • 37% of staff/administrators

Source: 2019 Climate Survey - Springfield campus


Future focus

Weaving IE through the fabric of campus

Members of the campus community will feel a sense of belonging, support and value at Missouri State. Faculty, staff and students will strengthen their awareness of cultural consciousness and civility through day-to-day interactions and intentional measures that cultivate:

  • A deepened understanding of self-awareness.
  • An appreciation of other viewpoints and perspectives.
  • Mindfulness and the ability to be present in opportunities to learn and understand.
  • The capacity to embrace and celebrate differences.

Students will gain knowledge and a broadened sense of responsibility from a foundation of core values infused into general education courses. Graduates will be engaged citizens in their community and beyond. And employers will benefit from an adept workforce that recognizes the significance of diversity and their obligation to be ethical leaders and culturally conscious members of society.



Big ideas

  • Core values will be infused into general education courses.

Campus culture transforms perspectives

Nick is a Missouri State junior from Kennett, Missouri. He comes from a close-knit family with ties to health care and educational communities. During high school, Nick played sports and was active in National Honor Society. He also began identifying with the LGBTQIA+ community.

During his first semester on campus, Nick grew to appreciate its welcoming vibe. He recalls his general education courses really set the tone for what he should expect during his time at Missouri State:

  • To begin with an open mind.
  • To be accepting of others.
  • To value and support equity and justice.
  • To search for and find opportunities to grow, connect and succeed.

Nick joined several student organizations, including a faith-based group for members of LGBTQ+ community. He applied for and became a member of the Student Diversity in Leadership Institute.

Nick is pursuing a degree in screenwriting. Discussions with his advisor piqued his interest in taking courses outside his major to broaden his knowledge base. It wasn’t until he attended MSU that Nick began interacting with people from different races. SOC 336 Race and Ethnicity sounded like a class that could inspire story lines beyond his background.

His professor not only brought in past and current topics relevant to the class, but also inspired students to share their views and experiences. It was difficult to hear stories from those who had experienced incivility. However, it was powerful to hear students share their experiences about growing up in a community that believed in and promoted racism. They didn’t fully comprehend the degree of its offensive nature until their classroom engagements and campus experiences prompted a personal awareness. They have a new perspective. They have changed their actions and their words.

What started out as a class that would fuel his major became something much bigger; seeing transformation of thought and broadened perspective of his classmates. Now, Nick tries to be more purposeful in his conversations and is becoming more comfortable talking with students from other cultures. And he appreciates that everyone has a backstory. It makes them much more interesting.


Focus area three

Individualized support

The digital age is full of potential and expectation. Most college students have grown up with the ability to create a highly curated world.

Students who have learning or financial challenges, feel marginalized, or who just feel overwhelmed demonstrate the growing need for individualized support. Whether it be academic, mental wellbeing, access or other barriers to student success, Missouri State will work to provide inclusive, personalized assistance to each student in need.

Utilizing contemporary connections – both in-person and digital – Missouri State will meet the unique struggles of its students in need.


Attention to supportive and inclusive student access, recruitment and retention strategies will permeate all actions.
Source: Task Force on Future Academic Directions

Future focus

​​​​​​​As more students learn remotely, access to critical student support services – housed on-campus or made available during inaccessible times – will become increasingly important to provide through flexible formats.


Big ideas

  • Staff at the Counseling Center will reflect student demographics.
  • Remote work.
  • Counseling services available 24/7.
  • Counseling staff reflects student demographics.

Investing in resources

Victoria and Derek are mental health clinicians at Missouri State University. Victoria is a mid-career Latina who lives in her hometown of Anderson, Missouri, while Derek is a young Black professional who moved to Springfield from Chicago. Both were drawn to providing mental health services in a college community, however for much different reasons.

Victoria recalls the struggles of being a first-generation student trying to navigate all the forms, deadlines and aid offerings just to pursue her education. She fought to keep up in class and felt very alone in her struggles.

After attaining her master’s degree in counseling, Victoria moved back to her hometown to care for family. She wanted to work with college students but needed flexibility. The Counseling Center at Missouri State provides accommodation for remote services and 24/7 accessible student dashboards. Victoria sets her hours according to when students need help, without having to factor in daily commutes. Alerts on the dashboard allow her to provide preventative assistance before distress becomes a crisis.

Derek and high school best friend, Aiden, attended Missouri State. Aiden’s transition was difficult. His struggle with depression and anxiety interrupted his college experience. It’s a memory that still motivates Derek to find a connection with students in need.

After earning his undergraduate degree in psychology, Derek gained a graduate assistantship in the MSU Counseling Center. The financial support of the assistantship allowed him to pursue a master’s degree in psychology, while the experience he acquired helped prepare him for a career working with college students.

Now as a full-time mental health clinician, he’s helping students like Aiden deal with personal problems and get back on track. Derek knows there are stressors underrepresented students experience that not every counselor can relate to. His goal is to not only be a resource to Black students in need, but also those dealing with mental health conditions.

Both Victoria and Derek believe in the foundational support they provide to Missouri State students. They also appreciate the forward-thinking culture that acknowledges their sensitive work.