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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Discussions on diversity and inclusion

Campus Climate Progress Report – Fall 2017

UW-Madison is committed to creating a welcoming environment that enables all students, faculty and staff to thrive. We continue to work toward this goal. Individuals and groups from across campus have embraced this challenge and devoted significant time and energy to moving the campus forward. These efforts build on the campus Diversity Framework and its implementation plan, R.E.E.L. Change. This page highlights several key initiatives, but is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all campus efforts.

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Here’s some of what we’ve accomplished since January:

  • “Our Wisconsin,” the Division of Student Life community-building program that aims to equip students with the skills to live and work effectively as part of a diverse campus, is working with University Housing to expand to about 7,000 students, up from 1,000. All new students in residence halls are expected to attend.
  • The Black Cultural Center opened in the Red Gym. Part of the Division of Student Life’s Multicultural Student Center, it centers the lives of black students on campus and honors the important contributions of black Badgers since the university’s founding.
  • Results of the first-ever campus climate survey are being analyzed by a campus task force to identify key issues and propose next steps to UW-Madison leadership. Recommendations are expected to be announced at the Diversity Forum on Nov. 7.
  • The Diversity Inventory Program, a database of diversity and inclusion efforts across campus, launched. Submitting information to DIP is one way everyone can carry out the Diversity Framework.
  • The Graduate School supported providing the workshop “Breaking the Prejudice Habit To Create Inclusion and Overcome Bias” to to about 250 graduate students across campus and collaborated with the College of Letters & Science to add diversity components to the training provided to its new teaching assistants.
  • University Health Services now offers expanded services thanks to two new counselors who focus on outreach to under-served groups, including students of color. UHS is also launching a new service model with phone screening and a 24-hour web appointment system.
  • Chancellor Blank continues to work with community advisors who represent multiple Madison-area groups, communicating campus issues and concerns to key stakeholders and seeking advice. This included discussion of Charlottesville’s impact on UW and the greater community, our response and a study group looking at student involvement with the KKK in the 1920s.

A number of initiatives will move forward over the academic year including:

  • Last year, Chancellor Blank challenged all units across campus to engage in some form of discussion and training on issues of inclusion and diversity. Deans and other campus leaders led a variety of new and expanded efforts. In the upcoming year, Chancellor Blank will work with units to build upon their initial efforts.
  • The School of Education developed The Discussion Project, a professional development opportunity beginning this fall to help faculty and academic staff members facilitate high-quality classroom discussion and engage all students.
  • The Department of Counseling Psychology is partnering with University Housing to offer programming for house fellows and program assistants to help them promote a sense of inclusiveness and positive climate for all residents.
  • Diversity Liaisons, a new program led by the Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, will identify three to five faculty and/or instructional academic staff from different disciplines to implement best practices in the classroom and beyond.
  • The Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI) expanded its “Breaking the Bias Habit” workshop to explore issues of implicit bias in departments and work units. In the first six months, 320 faculty and staff in 10 units took part. WISELI is researching its effectiveness and increasing capacity to offer it to more units.

These actions build on steps UW-Madison has taken over the past several years that have improved recruitment and retention of students of color and expanded need-based aid. Among the outcomes that have improved:

  • Over the last decade, enrollment of students of color has increased from 12 percent to nearly 16 percent.
  • Faculty of color have increased from 15 percent to nearly 21 percent.
  • The retention rate (freshmen returning for sophomore year) is now above 95 percent among both historically underrepresented students and all other students, closing the retention gap that used to exist.
  • Graduation rates among all of our students have been increasing, and they are increasing faster among historically underrepresented students. In 2015, UW-Madison was cited as a university that has made some of the best progress in reducing graduation gaps.

As Chancellor Blank has said, becoming a more welcoming and inclusive campus requires long-term engagement in a process of self-evaluation and change. This is not something that happens easily or quickly. Like many others, we have experienced setbacks. But the depth of commitment throughout the institution gives us the strength to continue moving forward.