Diversity and Inclusion provides outlet for growth

Arkansas Tech’s student demographics have shifted over the past decade, the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment reported.

Ten years ago, 10 percent of Tech students identified themselves as a member of an ethnic group. Today, that number has increased to 22.4 percent. From 2004-14, African American enrollment increased by 224 percent, and during the same time period, Hispanic enrollment increased by 522 percent.

However, Tech’s student body isn’t the only thing that is growing and changing.

At the beginning of the spring 2015 semester, administration branched out to include the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, of which is lead by Dr. MarTeze Hammonds, inaugural associate dean of the department. As of Friday, Hammonds and the department have only been active of Tech’s campus for 12 days. However, Hammonds ensures Tech will see the change he’s been promising.

“There is work to be done,” Hammonds said. “I’m excited about coming and rolling up my sleeves every morning to figure out what I can do next for these students.”

Hammonds has already created an LGBTQ institute and plans on developing a new student orientation plan. He says the department will grow with the addition of two graduate students within the year.

Vice President for Student Services and University Relations Susie Nicholson said Hammonds is fulfilling a need the Tech community as needed for quite a while.

“It’s a need we’ve known we’ve needed to address for some time now,” Nicholson said. “During our budget process last year, we asked for a position we could dedicate to meeting the needs of minority students. We want to provide the support Dr. Hammonds needs so he can go out and do the good work we know he can do.”

Dean of Students Amy Pennington seconded Nicholson’s statement.

“Our students are constantly changing and evolving, and their needs are different every day,” Pennington said. “We need to know what the needs are of the populations that are underrepresented and talk with those students — visit with them.”
Pennington encouraged students to be on the lookout for upcoming educational and outreach programs, which will be available in March.

“Get out, and get involved.”

About Sierra Murphy 54 Articles

Sierra Murphy is The Arka Tech’s News Writer.