The LSU Graduate School and the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach are committed to diversity recruiting in higher education. Pictured above are (from left to right): Clovier Torry, director for the Graduate School Academic Services Center; Marco Barker, assistant to the vice provost and director of educational equity for the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach; Malcolm Richardson, associate dean for the Graduate School; Renée Renegar, director of Graduate School Admissions; David Constant, interim dean for the Graduate School; and Katrice Albert, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach.

Partners in Diversity: Graduate School and EDCO Team Up to Increase Graduate Student Diversity


Increasing graduate student diversity is not only a mission of the LSU Graduate School and the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach, or EDCO, but it is also a responsibility to higher education.

According to the American Council on Education, there has been a slight increase in the national rate of graduate diversity, but there is still a significant disparity between ethnic minorities and whites among doctoral candidates and the professoriate.

As more students are expected to pursue a graduate education during an economic recession, LSU is primed to not only increase graduate student enrollment but also increase the diversity of graduate school. Advancing diversity efforts is, and will remain, a tenet of LSU's Flagship Agenda.

"Increasing the diversity of LSU graduate programs increases the overall education experience of all of our students and faculty," said Marco Barker, assistant to the vice provost and director of educational equity for EDCO. "Students from different backgrounds have the potential to bring diverse perspectives into classroom discussion, providing optimal learning opportunities amongst peers and between faculty and student. This is the epitome of higher learning."

The Graduate School and EDCO have begun to develop graduate diversity efforts and initiatives that communicate the diversity efforts of the institution; form partnerships with institutions and programs including historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, and the Ronald McNair Program; and expose LSU to high-achieving students from underrepresented groups across the nation. LSU recognizes that there are cadres of diverse students who can make significant academic contributions to the already great research and learning that is taking place at the university.

The Graduate School and EDCO are already involved in diversity-focused recruitment efforts where the Graduate School staff travels across the nation and EDCO attends diversity conferences like the Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. These efforts enable LSU to be seen as proactive on a national scene and committed to institutional diversity.


Nine ethnic minority undergraduate students from various institutions across the nation participated in LSU's Pre-Doctoral Scholars Institute in June 2009. For more information, visit “Diverse Scholars, Diverse Talents

"During Fall 2010, the LSU Graduate School attended 15 national recruiting fairs, seven of those dedicated to underrepresented groups," said Malcolm Richardson, associate dean of the Graduate School and J. F. Taylor Professor of English. "These fairs literally ranged from coast to coast, including the University of California-Santa Cruz in sight of the Pacific. LSU is being quite aggressive in recruiting exceptionally qualified advanced students representing a mix of cultures. It's critical in a global economy that LSU's graduate education be as inclusive as possible and represent the world we actually live in. "

To attract ethnic minorities to LSU, the Graduate School and EDCO are partnering to host students on campus through a variety of programs. One program, the Pre-Doctoral Scholars Institute, or PDSI, is a 4 1/2 week intensive doctoral preparation program during the summer. It consists of personal, professional and cultural development and research opportunities designed to expose students from underrepresented populations to the personal and academic demands of graduate and doctoral study; instill the concepts of discovery, creativity, scholarship and civic engagement; and provide students the opportunity to learn more about LSU and the diversity of Baton Rouge and Louisiana. PDSI students have come from many states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.

LSU is also able to host prospective minority students through graduate diversity preview days. During these previews, LSU presents the academic, cultural and diverse perspectives and richness of the university while connecting these students with key departments and people. One critical aspect of these visits is the diversity roundtable where students hear from Katrice Albert, vice provost for EDCO; ethnic minority graduate and professional students; SREB scholars; and members of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, or BGPSA.

It is this unique connection that the Graduate School and EDCO hope will turn prospective students into LSU graduate students and completers. LSU has had the opportunity to host McNair students from Xavier University of Louisiana and intends to hold other preview days that will invite students from across the nation.

"I am delighted to partner with the Graduate School to increase diversity in our graduate student population," said Albert. "This partnership reflects a serious commitment to building a stronger, more diverse graduate school. Our joint venture will allow us to redouble efforts in identifying, meeting and courting outstanding graduate students. It will also permit us to showcase the high quality graduate programs at LSU. We fully expect to continue creating national alliances and graduate pipelines from historically black college and universities, Native American serving institutions and Hispanic serving institutions."

There are numerous cultural opportunities for graduate students and support for graduate students from underrepresented populations. The university offers cultural programming through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, African-American Cultural Center, International Cultural Center, Women's Center, Student Activities Board and EDCO. Students may gain support through the Graduate School's Academic Services Center and diversity-centered fellowship programs like the Huel Perkins and Board of Regents Fellowship Programs. Other programs and organizations like SREB, BGPSA, Latin Student Association, Hillel and others, are other sources of support for students seeking assistance or wanting diverse experiences.

"It is critical for the Graduate School to grow and support a culturally diverse graduate student body of at least 20 percent of the total student population, raising our academic standards as reflected in our faculty with high levels of scholarship," said David Constant, interim dean for the LSU Graduate School and Humphrey T. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Working together with EDCO and other units on campus is the key to success in this effort. Our cultural diversity should reflect the global nature of our programs and our community and region."

Anyone interested in attending graduate school at LSU should apply online at https://appl030.lsu.edu/admissions%5Cgrdappl.nsf/EnrollmentInfo?OpenForm and follow up with the graduate coordinator of their desired program.

For more information regarding graduate diversity and any of the programs mentioned, please contact Richardson at graddeanoffice@lsu.edu or Marco Barker at diversity@lsu.edu, or visit gradlsu.gs.lsu.edu and www.lsu.edu/diversity.

 

Melissa Foley | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
February, 2010