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The Arkansas Tech University campus has seen a change in the last 18 months with the first female president in a public 4-year university in Arkansas and also with the addition of the Diversity and Inclusion Department. Progressing forward and making positive changes to campus, like educating and enhancing awareness of diversity, can only benefit the campus and the surrounding communities to be better than they currently are.
“I believe engaging with individuals from other races prepares students to work in a more global society,” said Dr. Robin Bowen, president of Arkansas Tech University. “Diversity enriches our educational experience as we hear multiple perspectives and that provides us with the opportunity to broaden our understanding of varying views.”
Diversity has been a growing topic on college campuses since the women’s rights movement of the ‘20s and the civil rights movement of the ‘60s. Expanding the dominantly Caucasian male college campuses to include every person qualified to be on campus is all part of the diversity movement. Today, campuses use SATs and other such exam scores to expand diversity.
“As we continue to become a more diverse nation and state, the student population at Arkansas Tech University has also diversified,” said Dr. Bowen. “In 2004, only 10% of our students were from minority [ethnic] groups. In 2015, 23.9% of our students were from minority [ethnic] groups, up from 22.4% in 2014.”
Diversity, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.” Diversity is many different groups of people and many different types of people within those groups. It is not as simple as the color of one’s skin or their gender.
The campus seems to be more diverse than previous years and heading in a direction to improve the quality of the campus for all students. Dr. Bowen seems to be the captain of the diversity ship and has set her sails to move forward.
Dr. Bowen first formed an Equity and Diversity Committee, which focuses on “enriching the lives of all constituents of Arkansas Tech University.” She then created a Department of Diversity and Inclusion, which is lead by Dr. MarTeze Hammonds, associate dean. Hammonds said his department is focused on educating the entire campus so that “each and every student feels apart of the Tech community” and believes “it’s not just the diversity of students but the diversity of faculty and staff as well.”
The university sponsored a seminar, in March of 2015, for faculty and staff entitled “Strategies in Minority Faculty/ Staff Recruitment.” Dr. Bowen efforts are “a continuing effort on our campus.”
According to Dr. Bowen, “in 2014 there were 22 full-time faculty members who were members of minority groups. That number rose to 27 in June of 2015. From June of 2014 to June 2015, our staff diversity increased from 33 individuals to 45.”
The Tech student population has seen a change in diversity over the last five years, from 18.21% minority in 2010 to a 23.90% minority in 2015 (with concerns of ethnicity).
We do not know if this change is due to Dr. Bowen or other staff members, but we do know that diversity on the college campus is necessary at all levels.
The influx of diversity on a campus should eventually level out and come to a point were we are all just human. The chosen person should be the best person for the job, a qualified applicant for enrollment. It shouldn’t be about what ethnicity, gender, political preference or any other demographic category one can think of.
Dr. Mohamed Abdelrahman, the newly chosen vice president for academic affairs said, “I guess you do not need fellow countrymen to feel welcomed if the community around you understands that despite the different accents, ideals, ideas and backgrounds, we share a desire to be happy, fulfilled and to make a difference.”
The leaders at Tech seem to have the right mindset to move the campus into a more progressive and educated future to help the students, faculty and staff become the best versions of themselves that they can be.