University of Wisconsin-River Falls
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UW-RF Receives Diversity Award

UW-River Falls has been recognized for its innovative practices to promote diversity on campus in a new award presented by the State of Wisconsin.

Chancellor Ann Lydecker led a delegation on Thursday, Oct. 30 to receive the Educational Diversity Award from Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton in a ceremony in the State Capitol in Madison. UW-RF was selected for the award by the State Council on Affirmative Action and the Office of State Employment Relations.

Joining Lydecker at the ceremony was Phil George, director of the UW-RF Academic Success Center; Terrence Galbreath, a recent graduate who has taught in the Pre-College program, been a McNair Scholar, and now serves as UW-RF Multicultural Student Advisor; and Professor Suzanne Hagen, faculty member and our affirmative action officer.

Also participating was UW System Regent Gerard Randall and two Milwaukee Vincent high school students, Ted Cannady and Amanda Johnson with teach John Howard. Randall, head of the Milwaukee Private Industry Council, was key in establishing a link between UW-RF and Vincent.

In accepting the award, Chancellor Lydecker told the assembly, "I firmly believe that our higher education institutions can and must play a significant role in preparing people of color, women, and persons with disabilities for career and life success in our 21st century world. And, very importantly, through these diversity efforts we also prepare all students for that diverse and global new century."

In a written statement, Gov. Jim Doyle conveyed his congratulations to UW-RF and other state agencies that received recognition, observing that "our employees are the state government's greatest asset, and by expanding the diversity of our workforce we gain new strength and a broader vision that enables state government to better serve the people of Wisconsin."

During the ceremony Lawton noted that, "Creating a diverse workforce pays dividends to both the individual workplaces involved and to the state as a whole. I encourage other employers, in both the private and public sectors, to learn from their experience."

UW-RF was cited for a comprehensive package of initiatives designed to encourage students of color to enroll at UW-RF, to support them academically and personally while enrolled, and to prepare them for success upon graduation. Among those key initiatives are:

  • Pre-College Programs. Since 1990 UW-RF has conducted College Camp and Explore as two programs to introduces about 100 students in 6-12th grades to the opportunities of attending college.
  • TRIO Upward Bound program. A federally funded program with numerous local partners, it assists students in building their academic skills, identifying their career interests, and preparing for college. Some 95 students from Arlington High School in St. Paul have participated in the program since 1999. Students are selected in their freshmen year and participate through high school graduation while working with faculty in the College of Education and Professional Studies. In the 2003 class, 13 of 15 participating students went on to college.
  • Vincent High School Research Collaboration. Initiated in 2000, some 125 students from the Milwaukee High School work on environmental science issues with high school faculty and faculty from the UW-RF College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Some 25 students also participate in a week-long summer camp in classroom and field experiences at UW-RF.
  • The Admissions Office with the Publications Office producea multi-lingual admissions publications in Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo, Amarec, Vietnamese and English. Translation services also are available for campus visits.
  • An Ethnic Studies Library Collection Development project at Chalmer Davee Library since 1999 has expanded its holdings to support multicultural education for teachers and parents, presents multicultural displays, and fosters community dialogue. The initiative also supports UW-RF students' work in completing a three-credit diversity course. With the College of Education and Professional Studies it has built a 9,700 item Curriculum Materials Center to support K-12 education majors and teachers.
  • Career Development Support through Career Services with outreach to multicultural students and student organizations including orientation classes and retreats. Some 170 students were served in 2003.
  • A community based scholarship and employment program has provided a scholarship and mentored work experience at First National Band of River Falls, in conjunction with the UW-RF Academic Success Center and College of Business and Economics.
  • McNair Scholars Program since 1999, funded with federal money, develops students research and teaching skills while encouraging them to enroll in graduate school. Some 31 students are currently participating. Another 27 have graduated, with 90 percent enrolling in graduate school. Collaborating on the program are the Academic Success Center, Office of Grants and Contracts, and the U.S. Dept. of Education.

Faculty and Academic Staff Development Board programs focus on diversity issues through workshops for faculty and staff as well as orienting new faculty to techniques of introducing diversity topics into their classroom instruction.

Also recognized at the diversity awards ceremony were the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin Office of the State Public Defender, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

Lydecker noted, "I know that this honor bestowed upon UW-River Falls today could well be shared among many other Wisconsin colleges and universities who work daily to expand opportunities for students. But I must also confess that I'm extremely pleased to have our work at River Falls noted and I commend the faculty, staff and students on our campus whose dedication and hard work are the reason for the award."

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