Dakota State University Honored for Excellence in Diversity

DSU receives the 2012 Minority Access Role Models Award for enhancing the diversity mission.

Dakota State University recently was named a recipient of the 2012 Minority Access Role Models Award for its commitment to enhancing the diversity mission throughout the DSU campus. DSU is one of only 27 institutions nationally to achieve the designation this year.

DSU was named with this honor amongst other distinguished schools enriched with a diversity focus such as Auburn University, Texas A&M University and Wake Forest University. To be considered for the award, institutions submitted descriptions of their diversity efforts and successes.

Recipients were presented the award by Minority Access Inc. on Sept. 28, in Orlando, at the 13th National Role Models Conference. Created out of a partnership between Minority Access Inc. and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Role Models Project encourages colleges and universities to promote environments conducive to nurturing a diverse student body in order to recruit, retain and graduate more students from underrepresented groups. Minority Access bestows recognition on colleges and universities committed to diversity, and publish their diversity plans and programs so that other institutions seeking to increase campus diversity might emulate them.

Dakota State University’s non-white, diverse enrollment averaged 10% the last three years. But, that does not include all the aspects that make up diversity on the DSU campus.

“Diversity is more than just race.  Because of the effort DSU makes towards teaching around all aspects of diversity, we were recognized by Minority Access as an institution with a Commitment to Diversity,” said Jesse Kane, Vice President/Dean for Student Affairs at DSU. “We focused on enhancing our diversity mission on campus. Jennifer Aranda, the DSU Diversity Coordinator, has done a great job of expanding what diversity means on our campus.”

Dakota State University’s Diversity group made a commitment to building a campus community in which diversity is a fundamental value. People are different and the differences among them are known as diversity – a natural and enriching hallmark of life. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, ethnicity, race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religion, disability, political viewpoints, veteran status, and gender identity/expression. A climate of healthy diversity is one in which people value individual and group differences, respect the perspectives of others, and communicate openly.

DSU’s Diversity Services offers cross-cultural enrichment events and programs, clubs and social support groups to nurture greater understanding of others and encourage interactions across difference. Topics included in scheduled forums on campus range from the language of oppression to religious diversity to accommodations for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Forums are conducted in an environment that fosters thoughtful discussion, disagreement, and respectful sharing of views and opinions, where all are welcome and all may discover.

One part of the mission includes the Dakota State University Diversity Student Union, also known as DSU2 (DSU-Squared), a cultural, student organization open to all DSU students. Rather than create separate student groups based on racial identification, this group chooses to serve as a source of information for, and liaison between, all students interested in diversity. The group sponsors culturally-relevant activities and presentations, while promoting social interaction for its members with the greater student body and the local community.

During the fall 2011, 348 Dakota State University students completed a web-based Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) produced by Noel-Levitz, Inc. The survey provides information on how satisfied students are with DSU and what is most important to them. The questions focus on a wide range of college experiences, programs, and services. Specific to diversity on campus, DSU students responded as being satisfied on those topics. Statements the students rated on diversity ranged from DSU’s commitment to racial harmony on campus to the faculty take into consideration student differences as they teach a course.

Minority Access Inc. is a nonprofit educational organization that assists individuals, academic institutions, federal, state and local government agencies, and various corporations in diversifying campuses and work sites by improving the recruitment, retention and enhancement of minorities. It also provides technical assistance to minorities and minority-serving institutions in order to improve the higher educational, professional and managerial employment of minorities.

Last Updated: 11/14/12