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Recruit and Retain URM Students

These are practices some units on campus use to recruit and retain graduate students from Under-Represented Minority (URM) groups. The Graduate College also has many resources available to assist programs with these efforts.

 

Recruit

Communications & Media: This is achieved by a number of elements: the existence of a large number of faculty of color on the ICR faculty, including the current heads of the campus's African-American, Asian-American, and Latino Studies programs, who act as magnets for applicants because they are major scholars in our field, a thoroughly diversity infused curriculum, a number of highly successful alumni from underrepresented groups and present colleagues who recommend us, and by success in winning generous support for students of underrepresented groups from the Graduate College.

 

Education Policy, Organization & Leadership: The former Department of EPS is well known for its success in this area and our peers look to us as a model and also as a program from which to recruit a diverse faculty in their own institutions. It began its diversity recruitment at the undergraduate level through active participation in programs (e.g. McNair Scholars and Summer Research Opportunities Program-SROP) that include high achieving underrepresented students. For example, since around 1997 more than 30 former McNair or SROP students have received doctorates from EPS and more than 30 are currently enrolled in the EPOL graduate program.

 

Human & Community Development: Our program emphasizes recruiting minority doctoral students who have undergraduate research experience, and we have worked hard to establish a pipeline between our department and organizations such as McNair and various SROPs. Our Graduate Director has attended McNair conferences to make personal contact with student presenters who have interests that align with our program. HCD faculty members are encouraged to mentor SROP and McNair students. Additionally, we cull the mailing lists sent by the Educational Equity program for social science undergraduates to whom we send personalized emails. Further, we work with the College of ACES to recruit students from minority-serving institutions, and we participate in the ACES RAP program which brings minority high school students to campus. These efforts have changed the HCD incoming class from being 10% US minority in 2004 to 33% in 2009. The increase in minority enrollment co-occurred with an increase in quantitative and verbal GRE scores and the number of students with significant undergraduate research experience. Also during this time, minority students have increasingly entered to work with non-minority faculty advisors which speaks to our philosophy that diversity should be integrated throughout our graduate program.

 

Sociology: Program efforts in recruitment and retention of students traditionally underrepresented in our field have been many. Several Sociology Department faculty over the years have served as McNair Scholars and Summer Research Opportunities Program, and Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute (SPI) mentors. The Director of Graduate Studies has recruited underrepresented students to participate and has participated herself in various National Science Foundation and Great Lakes Alliance for Social Sciences (GLASS) Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) initiatives. This collective provides support to increase significantly the number of domestic students receiving doctoral degrees in the social, behavioral and economic sciences (SBE), with special emphasis on students underrepresented in those fields. In addition to recruiting students to get involved in NSF-sponsored events, the DGS has participated as well, including attending Symposia and serving as Discussant during Graduate Student Conferences. Additionally, invitations to apply to our Sociology Department have been sent to lists of underrepresented students provided by the Graduate College Educational Equity Programs Office. And attempts have been made to recruit potential graduate students at the American Sociological Association Annual Meetings and the Association of Black Sociologists Annual Conference. In the past NSF funds have been made available for tutoring in Statistics. This has significantly increased our retention of underrepresented students in Sociology.

 

Retain

Human & Community Development: To promote their success, incoming minority students are connected with the U of Illinois Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute in the months prior to official admission, and the Graduate Director regularly checks in with them regarding their progress and any concerns. Furthermore, HCD promotes the retention of minority students by pursing a “race aware” rather than “color blind” department culture. Most of our faculty study social inequalities and attention to diversity is woven throughout our required curriculum. Also, we encourage all students to examine race, social class and sexuality issues and address them in their research. We additionally encourage open and constructive discussion of inclusion and exclusion dynamics as they relate to professional development. For example, a recent lunch with the Grad Director (they occur several times each year) focused on distinguishing friendship from collegial relationships, and the importance of building multiracial professional networks.