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'We’re focusing on program- and community-building for students, faculty and staff'

Dec. 5, 2013

IU is making it a priority to recruit and retain talented African American students.

James Wimbush, IU’s recently appointed vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, talked with Inside IU Bloomington about strategies for increasing and supporting diversity on campus.

campus shot

IU Bloomington is actively pursuing strategies for increasing and supporting diversity on campus.

The chat followed a recent radio interview on “Afternoons With Amos” on WTLC-AM in Indianapolis, where Wimbush joined program host Amos Brown and IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

IU's top graduate school administrator and a Kelley School of Business professor, Wimbush replaced longtime IU professor and administrator Edwin Marshall in the vice president role in August. In announcing the appointment, McRobbie cited Wimbush's leadership experience at the graduate school level as playing an important role in the university's ongoing effort to increase the diversity of its faculty and student body.

Wimbush said that connecting potential students -- particularly first-generation college students -- with the array of options at IU is crucial.

“We’re serious about increasing diversity on the Bloomington campus,” Wimbush said. “And we want to make sure students are aware of the opportunities they have at Indiana University as a whole. Through our multiple campuses with different missions, there’s a campus for everybody.”

Wimbush discussed recruiting efforts by Martin McCrory, IU Bloomington associate vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs and vice provost for educational inclusion and diversity, and David Johnson, vice provost for enrollment management, who are co-chairs of a Bloomington campus recruitment committee.

“The object of their efforts is the coordination of all of the academic units so one hand knows what the other is doing, and so we can make better use of the resources we have to recruit students.”

For example, Wimbush said, rather than the Kelley School of Business hosting its own recruitment fair, while the School of Public and Environmental Affairs hosts a separate fair in a different location, schools could join forces, streamlining efforts and exposing potential students to a range of possibilities that may not have occurred to them.

James Wimbush

James Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs.

Plans are also being made to increase advisors and staff for programs designed to recruit and retain African American students, such as Hudson and Holland Scholars. An existing emissaries program, through which graduate students help with student recruitment, is being expanded.

Starting in the fall of 2014, Wimbush said, IU Bloomington will have $1 million available in base funding each year for graduate dissertation fellowships with priority to students in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Two-thirds of the money will go toward recruitment and dissertation fellowships, while the remaining third will be used for mentoring activities, community building and programming.

An additional priority, he said, is on supporting and connecting the culture centers on campus.
“We’re focusing on program- and community-building for students, faculty and staff," Wimbush said. “In addition to the Asian Culture Center, La Casa, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and the First Nations Educational Center, we’re including GLBT Student Support Services. It’s not officially part of my office, but I view GLBT services as an important part of student life – and diversity -- on campus.”

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