The state’s future workforce

By Chrysa Smith

Diversity is a significant buzzword these days. In every employment sector, leaders have signed on to provide more opportunities for more people. Not only is it a suggestion for inclusion, but in some cases, a mandate. At colleges such as Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI), it is becoming more ingrained into the education system

 “Research tells us that the greater the diversity of an institution, the higher the level of employee satisfaction, better classroom outcomes and greater campus engagements — and students who leave with degrees and experiences that have prepared them to work across multiple differences,” according to Karen Dace, Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at IUPUI.

The university, recognized as an urban public research (and academic health services) school of higher education, boasts an enrollment of about 29,000 students and is a six time Heed Award Winner (Higher Education Excellence in Diversity). The award is given out from Insight into Diversity magazine, a 40-year-old publication with a focus on intercultural engagements. The university’s mission, according to the institution, is “to advance the state of Indiana and the intellectual growth of its citizens to the highest levels nationally and internationally through research and creative activity, teaching and learning civic engagement.” 

 What this has translated into is learning about the histories, cultures and contributions of communities around the world. 

“Through the Diversity Speaker Series, students, staff, faculty as well as Indianapolis community members have the unique opportunity to engage nationally and internationally recognized experts including Kimberle Crenshaw (professor and civil rights advocate), Winona LaDuke (writer, environmentalist, economist), Maria Teresa Kumar (American political rights activist) and Wes Moore (author and CEO of New York’s largest anti-poverty organization),” Dace says.

Moreover, the Social Justice Book and Lecture Program invites authors to meet with first-year students. And, they have instituted a White Racial Literacy Project in order to improve race relations. Heritage month celebrations, culturally based student organizations and a multicultural center add to the mix.

As for their faculty Dace says “Multiple semester and year-long programs provide intensive leadership trainings. Three-and-a-half day intensive discussions are available through the Office of Intercultural Literacy, Capacity and Engagement through the Inter-Group Dialogue (IGD) Program, which offers facilitated discussion on challenging issues.”

IUPUI is on the list of top 200 national universities, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, is in the top 30 graduate nursing programs and the number one school of philanthropy in the world. From 2002-2017 the percent of total students of color rose from 20 percent to 26 percent. The one-year retention rate for all students of color rose 3 percent from 2010-2016. The four-year graduation rate rose 7 percent for students of color from 2008-2013 . And the number of doctoral degrees rose over 16 percent from 2007-2017 for the same population.

Their prediction for future workers looks promising. According to a recent study, IUPUI grads fare well in their chosen career and salary, with a 91 percent retention rate for grads staying in Indiana and 65 percent in the Greater Indianapolis area. Their diversity training is extensive. And that’s great news for Indiana’s future.