UIC honored for commitment to diversity

Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award_English version
UIC has earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the sixth year.

The University of Illinois Chicago has been commended for its diversity efforts by receiving the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from Insight into Diversity magazine for the sixth year.

UIC is one of 101 institutions to be featured in the November issue of Insight into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. Each year, the publication recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The university received the award for its level of achievement and intensity of commitment to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach, according to the publication. In addition, UIC’s efforts to increase student recruitment, retention and completion — as well as hiring practices for faculty — also were honored, said Amalia Pallares, associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity at UIC.

The university is an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution, as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

UIC is one of only 16 Research 1 HSI institutions in the country, and the majority of its undergraduates are eligible to receive federal Pell Grants. This year UIC’s enrollment set a record for the largest enrollment in its history for the seventh consecutive year.

UIC’s efforts to increase diversity were reinforced by the new freshman class this fall. Of the 4,177 new freshmen at UIC, the number of Black freshmen students jumped 25%, the largest percentage increase among ethnic groups this year. Latino freshmen students increased 19.5% from the previous year, the largest overall increase campus-wide.

“UIC’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have helped to make it one of the most diverse institutions of higher learning in the country, thereby providing students with access to one of a handful of Research 1 HSI institutions in the nation and the only public research university in Chicago,” Pallares said.

Among highlighted inclusion efforts was UIC’s Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science Program, which has created a learning community of about 45 Hispanic/Latino research scholars with transition coaching, peer mentoring and support. The effort has led to better grades and retention, according to Pallares.

In addition, the implementation of iAdvise, a centralized system for sharing academic advising for undergraduate students, has helped provide assistance to new and returning students. To increase diversity in STEM fields of study, the campus recently began the DuSable Scholars program to attract and support Black and Latino STEM students.

UIC’s holistic approach in its admissions process targets communities with talented but marginalized students, offering transition coaching to help students with college applications and college financing in high schools with large Latino and Black student populations.

UIC automatically accepts the top 4% of all Illinois high school students as part of its Admissions Via Excellence program, and in an effort to recruit Native American students, UIC offers out-of-state Native American students in-state tuition if they are from recognized tribal nations

Also highlighted were several initiatives supporting efforts to diversify the faculty ranks at UIC.

UIC’s Bridge to the Faculty program works to recruit underrepresented minority postdoctoral researchers for the opportunity to be offered a junior faculty position in departments with low or no underrepresented faculty within two years. This includes supporting departments that are doing the hiring and mentoring postdocs through a cohort program structure. The UIC Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty Program recruits and supports outstanding underrepresented graduate students interested in pursuing careers as faculty members. The Underrepresented Faculty Recruitment Program helps to recruit diverse faculty by providing additional research support.

“Each of these programs provides peer mentoring with other departmental faculty, cross-campus networking and skills support through individual training and collective workshops,” according to UIC’s application.

For the first time this year, magazine officials asked how COVID-19 impacted diversity efforts on campuses.

Diversity officials at UIC took an active role as members of the university’s COVID-19 response and planning team. Officials listed several steps they took to assist students including offering additional mental health support, ensuring food-insecure students received free food, making sure all students had access to computers and internet access for online learning and ensuring online learning was accessible to students with disabilities.

Additional funding and resources were provided to students, faculty and staff to move to remote and hybrid learning and provide a safe working environment, officials said.

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