Photo of Diversity Artwork at SCCSouth Central College is committed to fostering a campus environment of inclusion, knowledge, and understanding in which faculty, staff, and students learn to value diversity and to respect individual differences that enrich our college community.

The Value of Diversity

It is imperative that South Central College provide a welcoming atmosphere for all students, visitors, and employees. I believe that each of us contributes to the college's ability to sustain an atmosphere that attracts and supports a diverse community of learners. Diversity initiatives were purposefully intertwined throughout the college's most recent Strategic Plan to highlight its importance in all areas of the college. This Diversity Plan is an important next step to further identify the education and training needs, environmental improvements, and institutional changes necessary to advance our development and truly prepare our students and employees for the future.

The Value of a Plan

In order to successfully prepare students for life beyond college, educational institutions must develop a comprehensive diversity plan that creates an environment in which students and employees can learn about the world, about each other, and about themselves.

A comprehensive diversity plan is necessary to help college employees interact with a greater variety of people defined by nationality, ethnicity, race, sexual identity, and disability.

A comprehensive plan provides focus and coordinates efforts.

A measurable comprehensive plan ensures consistency, quality improvement measures and assessment, and recognition of weaknesses and successes as the plan is implemented.

An actionable, comprehensive plan ensures commitment to the plan by the people who will carry it out. It helps ensure the college will be successful in its efforts and that students will be prepared for life beyond college.

The Value of a Committee

The role of SCC's Diversity Committee is to advise the institution on matters of diversity, to champion existing and new initiatives, and to hold the institution accountable for these efforts. To do this effectively, the committee will need to strengthen its organizational structure and members must be committed to deepening their cultural competence. The next few years promise to be challenging yet exciting.







Key Concepts

SCC's Diversity Statement served as the basis for the college's diversity planning. It expresses the college's fundamental understanding of diversity and our approach to supporting multiculturalism. The statement is reflective:

South Central College is committed to fostering a campus environment of inclusion, knowledge, and understanding in which faculty, staff, and students learn to value diversity and to respect individual differences that enrich our college community.

Several key concepts guided SCC's diversity planning process. These concepts are provided below.

Diversity

Diversity reflects the extent to which an environment represents a variety of individuals and groups. Organizations differ in how broadly they conceptualize diversity. At SCC, diversity is viewed in very broad terms to include categories ranging from ethnicity to educational level to physical ability. This understanding is rooted in two sources: the Higher Learning Commission's Statement on Diversity and the Minnesota System of Colleges and Universities definition of diversity.

The Higher Learning Commission's Statement on Diversity:

"Diversity is represented in many forms, ranging from differences in organizational mission and educational levels to differences in the ideas, viewpoints, perspectives, values, religious beliefs, backgrounds, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, human capacity, and ethnicity of those who attend and work in the organizations. Individual and group differences add richness to teaching similarities in a variety of ways, including through the processes of discovery and exploration, interaction, collaboration, and partnering. In this context, the Commission champions diversity as a value to be upheld, and it looks to its member organizations to promote diversity in both concept and practice as they realize their respective missions." (Source: http://www.ncahlc.org/information-for-institutions/publications.html)

MnSCU's definition of diversity:

"Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system recognizes and respects the importance of all similarities and differences among human beings. The system and its institutions are committed, through their programs and policies, to fostering inclusiveness, understanding, acceptance and respect in a multicultural society. Diversity includes but is not limited to, age, ethnic origin, national origin, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, religious beliefs, creeds and income. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system's commitment to diversity compels it to confront prejudicial, discriminatory or racist behaviors and policies." (Source: http://www.diversity.mnscu.edu/resources/glossary/index.html#anchor1576754)

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action entails specific actions that are designed to eliminate the effects of past discrimination and prevent future discrimination in recruiting, hiring, promoting, and other employment areas. It is one aspect of the federal government's efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity.

Affirmative Action Plan

An Affirmative Action plan is a written document through which management assures that all persons have equal opportunities in recruitment, selection, appointment, promotion, training, discipline, and other employment areas. The plan is tailored to the employer's work force and the skills available in the labor. It prescribes specific actions, goals, timetables, responsibilities, and resources to meet identified needs. The plan is a comprehensive results-oriented program designed to achieve equal employment opportunity rather than merely assure nondiscrimination.

Cultural Competence

The goal of cultural competence is noted at various points in the plan. Cultural competence refers to the ability to effectively communicate and interact with people from other cultures. Cultural competence involves being aware of one's own worldviews as well as one's attitudes and knowledge of others' worldviews. Cultural competence is vital for creating and strengthening intercultural connections between individuals and groups because it encourages honest and open dialogue and develops flexibility and respect for others' world views.

Multiculturalism

While the term diversity provides a definition of the individuals and groups in focus, multiculturalism refers to ways in which an organization supports and honors diversity. Multiculturalism refers to the importance of recognizing and valuing multiple cultures and honoring their practices and beliefs. The goal is to create an environment in which individuals and groups feel free to practice their cultural beliefs and customs without the pressure to adapt to the established institutional culture. SCC seeks to support multiculturalism by creating an inclusive college environment and developing cultural competence among students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Inclusion

At the most fundamental level, SCC desires to create a collegiate environment that is inclusive of all. Kid's Together, Inc. provides an excellent definition of inclusion that reflects SCC's interpretation of this concept:

"Inclusion is being a part of what everyone else is, being welcomed and embraced as a member who belongs." (www.kidstogether.org/inclusion.html)
The goal of inclusion was at the forefront of the planning process; the planning committee ensured this by comprehensively addressing several aspects of the college including curricular and co-curricular initiatives, student engagement activities, facility planning, cultural competency training, human resource policies and procedures, and community engagement efforts.

 

Underrepresented Students

While SCC's understanding of diversity is fairly broad, the college's definition of underrepresented students has a narrower focus. This definition is driven by two of SCC's principle funding sources–MnSCU and TRiO /Student Support Services programming–which guide many of SCC's current initiatives and programming decisions.

To participate in the TRiO/SSS program a student must meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements set forth under Title IV of the Higher Education Act:

To be considered underrepresented by MnSCU a student must meet at least one of the following criteria:

Despite the importance of these sources in driving programmatic decisions and initiatives, the college continues to work to support the broader range of diversity on its campuses. An important function of this plan is to ensure that SCC continues to support underrepresented students and expand programming and services to create an environment that is inclusive for all.

Goal 1

Develop diversity and SCC students' cultural competence through comprehensive and sustained educational programming (curricular and co-curricular).

  1. Purposefully incorporate diversity and cultural competency concepts in college curricula.
    • Partner with the Student Learning Committee to communicate the college's expectation for including diversity and cultural competency concepts in all course curricula.
    • Document current curriculum best practices at the college.
    • Develop and implement a process to identify best practices for incorporating diversity and cultural competency in all program curricula.
    • Provide faculty with the necessary resources and support to make curriculum changes.
    • Assess and demonstrate inclusion in curricula through college evaluation and program review processes.
    • Partner with the Student Learning Committee to develop an assessment plan for monitoring the impact of diversity on student learning.
  2. Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for offering co-curricular opportunities that align with curriculum expectations.
    • Develop and implement a process to identify and implement best practices and promising initiatives that support diversity in co-curricular activities.
    • Determine the co-curricular needs and interests of students and faculty through appropriate assessment methods employed at regular intervals.
    • Develop a comprehensive plan that addresses topics, timing preferences, resources, promotion efforts, and evaluation strategies.

Goal 2

Increase the diversity of SCC's student population by developing new and strengthening existing recruitment initiatives.

Strategies/Action Steps:

  1. Partner with the Marketing & Recruitment Committee to analyze data, discuss research, and establish the college's goals for recruitment initiatives.
    • Gain a better understanding of the recruitment initiatives targeted toward underrepresented students in the college's current Marketing & Recruitment Plan.
    • Collectively use data and research to strengthen recruitment initiatives and outcomes.

Goal 3

Increase the college's persistence and completion rates for underrepresented students.

Strategies/Action Steps:

  1. Partner with the Retention Committee to analyze data, discuss research, and establish the college's goals for retention initiatives targeted at underrepresented students.
    • Convene a joint meeting between the Retention and Diversity Committees to discuss steps for addressing this strategy.
  2. Implement academic support initiatives for providing individualized interventions.
    • Successfully implement TRiO/SSS Program and system initiatives to position the college for future funding opportunities.
    • Ensure that SCC participates in system initiatives that support promising retention practices.
    • Collectively use data and research to strengthen retention initiatives and outcomes.
  3. Implement targeted curricular and co-curricular initiatives that engage underrepresented students.
    • Conduct an audit of what is currently being done at SCC in order to create a baseline.
    • Create an action team of faculty, staff, and administrators to explore researched best practices and make recommendations for implementing curricular and co-curricular initiatives within the next academic year.
    • Implement promising initiatives.
    • Establish a process for evaluating initiatives on an annual basis. Continue to support successful initiatives, improve or end unsuccessful initiatives, and add new initiatives based on evaluation results.

Goal 4

Increase the diversity of SCC's employee pool by strengthening recruitment and retention procedures and practices.

Strategy:

  1. Develop and implement a process to identify and implement best practices/promising initiatives for employee recruitment and retention.
    • Convene a joint meeting between the Human Resource Office and the Diversity Committee to discuss steps for addressing this strategy.
    • Actively partner with Human Resources to strengthen the college's Affirmative Action Plan.
    • Use diversity data and research to strengthen recruitment and employee retention protocols.

Goal 5

Develop diversity and cultural competence among college employees through comprehensive and sustained diversity training and programming.

Strategy:

  1. Develop a comprehensive training plan for all college employees.
    • Develop and implement a process to identify and implement best practices/promising initiatives related to employee training.
    • Determine the training needs and interests of employees and supervisors through appropriate assessment methods employed at regular intervals.
    • Develop a comprehensive plan that addresses training topics, formats, timing and frequency of offerings, general vs. specialized needs, resources, communication strategies, and evaluation efforts.
  2. Increase employee participation in student co-curricular opportunities to supplement training.
    • Market co-curricular opportunities to SCC employees through standard communication practices including email, faculty/staff meetings, and the college's Connections newsletter.
    • Publish co-curricular activities open to SCC employees in the college's calendar of events.
    • Track attendance of SCC employees at co-curricular opportunities.
  3. Strengthen employee development protocols to improve diversity and cultural competence among employees.
    • Include diversity and cultural competence training and co-curricular opportunities in employee professional development plans.

Goal 6

Create and maintain a welcoming atmosphere that embraces diversity and provides an inclusive collegiate environment.

Strategies/Action Steps:

  1. Audit college environment to determine ways that facilities and operations can be improved to serve diverse groups.
    • Explore methods for conducting such audits and determine the most appropriate approach for SCC.
    • Conduct audit within the next academic year.
  2. Implement the findings of audits into specific environmental and organizational process changes.
    • Create a multi-year operational plan for implementing changes.
    • Present the developed operational plan to the administrative team for feasibility review and make changes as appropriate.
    • Implement the changes as described in the operational plan.
  3. Purposefully develop training and initiatives for improving student engagement.
    • Convene a joint meeting between the Retention and Diversity Committees to discuss steps for implementing promising student engagement initiatives (i.e. Create a Connected College, Learning Communities, First Year Experience).
    • Implement promising initiatives.
    • Establish a process for evaluating initiatives on an annual basis. Continue to support successful initiatives, improve or end unsuccessful initiatives, and add new initiatives based on evaluation results.
  4. Include the college's Chief Diversity Officer or designee and diversity research in the college's facility planning efforts.
    • Create an official procedure outlining the inclusion of the Chief Diversity Officer or designee and research into college facility planning.
    • Document when and how diversity is included in facility planning.

Goal 7

Identify meaningful partnerships with higher education institutions, K-12 systems, community groups, and business partners to collectively strengthen the college's diversity efforts.

Strategies/Action Steps:

  1. Establish a Diversity Advisory Committee for maintaining consistent conversations with community members to facilitate diversity planning and implementation.
    • Determine the purpose and structure of the advisory committee.
    • Identify committee membership recognizing current and potential college partnership opportunities
  2. Collectively review current partnership strategies and identify new opportunities for engaging the community.
    • Conduct an audit of the ways that SCC is currently supports diversity efforts in the community.
    • Identify and explore new relationships with key organizations and events that support diversity in the community.
  3. Investigate partnership models that support mentoring opportunities for current and future college students.
    • Create an action team of faculty, staff, and administrators to explore researched best practices and make recommendations for implementing student mentoring models.
    • Implement at least one mentor program.
    • Establish a process for evaluating programs on an annual basis. Continue to support successful programming, improve or end unsuccessful programming, and add new programming based on evaluation results.
  4. Strengthen partnerships with organizations that work with underrepresented populations to create successful pathways into higher education.
    • Create an action team of SCC representatives, K-12 representatives, and organizations that work with underrepresented populations to explore researched best practices and make recommendations for implementing student initiatives.
    • Implement at least one initiative.
    • Establish a process for evaluating programs on an annual basis. Continue to support successful programming, improve or end unsuccessful programming, and add new programming based on evaluation results.

Goal 8

Formalize the Diversity Committee's structure and competencies to strengthen its advisory capacity to the college.

Strategies/Action Steps:

  1. Formalize the structure of the Diversity Committee.
    • Create bylaws to support the committee's purpose, structure, and authority.
  2. Develop cultural and diversity competencies of the Diversity Committee.
    • Create a training plan to build the cultural competence of the committee membership and college administration.
  3. Actively advise the institution on diversity matters.
    • Work with the Chief Diversity Officer to implement the diversity plan's strategies and monitor outcomes.
    • Adopt and communicate a foundational set of definitions to establish a college wide understanding of diversity terms.
    • Determine the need for new or revised organizational policies and procedures to support the desired diversity outcomes and ensure continuing organizational commitment.