Diversity Task Force

Group of students talking

Anticipated trends

  • The U.S. population will continue to become more diverse and, as a result, higher education institutions will become more diverse. While diversity in Missouri may lag behind other states, the change will come.
  • The lack of racial/ethnic diversity in Springfield is more pronounced than in the rest of the country. According to the Lumina Foundation, Springfield’s 2013 population was 87 percent white (66 percent nationwide), 4 percent black (13 percent nationwide), 2 percent Asian (5 percent nationwide), and 4 percent Hispanic (16 percent nationwide).
  • Nationally, 11 percent of entering freshmen report having a disability, making it the fastest growing underrepresented group in higher education.
  • According to the 2013 American Community Survey, Missouri is the 21st poorest state with 15.5 percent of its people living in poverty. Additionally, according to the Lumina Foundation, 25.6 percent of people living in Springfield live in poverty.


  • Missouri State will continue to be intentional about diversity, actively recruiting, engaging and providing leadership opportunities for diverse students and faculty.
  • The University will continue to embrace diversity as a core value, not only on moral and ethical grounds, but also for the significant value it adds to a Missouri State degree.
  • Missouri State will continue its leadership role for diversity in Springfield, the region and the state.
  • The University will continue to support and advocate for students with intersecting underrepresented/minority/gender identity and expression/sexual orientation identities.

Major issues

  • At its core, diversity is about having respect for all individuals, which is consistent with the University’s public affairs mission, University Community Principles and its policies and procedures.
  • It is important for the University to use the recently completed Climate Study, best practices and other research and tools to make the campus and its programs even more welcoming.
  • To reach its diversity and inclusion goals, Missouri State will need to consider expanding its orientation, professional development and training opportunities for 
    faculty and staff.
  • As the diversity of the student body increases, Missouri State will need to be sensitive to, and provide support services for, students who come from school districts that may not provide a full college preparation curriculum, students for whom the size and culture of Springfield may be a challenge.


Missouri State University will be a “university of choice and opportunity” for all students, as well as a beacon for diversity in Springfield and the region, with all faculty, staff, administrators and students demonstrating respect for each other and all individuals.

Questions for the next long-range plan

  • What initiatives can effectively intertwine diversity and inclusion with all aspects of academia and campus life?
  • How can Missouri State be more intentional in encouraging students to accept meaningful leadership positions that lead to greater engagement and ultimate success?
  • What combination of proven and innovative tactics might the University employ to increase diversity among faculty and staff? 
  • What improvements should be made to ensure maximum access for those with disabilities?


Sharmistha Self
Professor, Economics

Jamaine Abidogun
Professor, History

James Anderson
Community Leader, CoxHealth

Stephen Berkwitz
Department Head, Religious Studies

Gilbert Brown
Associate Dean, College of Education

Roberto Canales
Associate Professor, Physician Assistant Studies

Derell DeRamus

Kevin Evans
Professor, Geography Geology and Planning

Thomas Lane
Associate Vice President, Student Life and Dean of Students

Brenda Polyard
Director, University Communications, West Plains Campus

Malikah Marrus
Clinical Assistant Professor, Social Work

Olivia Parks

Francine Pratt
Executive Director, Multicultural Programs

Daniel Raines
Director, Academic and Student Services

Catherine Reade-Heredia
Community Leader, Haden Cowherd and Bullock LLC

Arbindra Rimal
Professor, Agriculture