UConn Seeks Improved Diversity Training Program
The University of Connecticut is teaching more than 3,000 staff members to think before they speak.
Dr. Carlian Dawson, director of diversity education, said a planned diversity training program will not tell campus employees what to think, but to consider the impact of what they say.
“We want people to think about what they’re doing, rather than just react,” Dawson told the Journal Inquirer of Manchester. “People tend to react out of habit without thinking about what they’re saying. They need to think about what they’re saying and how that will impact someone.”
The program is part of an effort to attract and keep more minority students and faculty. But, it also is the law.
State law requires state employees to receive three hours of diversity training, Dawson says. UConn will provide between six and eight hours of diversity education, with follow-up sessions after six months.
“We want everyone who walks on the campus to feel like this is the kind of place they want to go to school or be employed,” Dawson says.
M. Kevin Fahey, president of the union that represents 1,300 non-teaching professional employees at Storrs and regional campuses, said minority employees have expressed a concern about the work force not being as diverse as the student body and the need for diversity training.
UConn’s diversity action committee released a report in April that listed 127 recommendations on how to improve diversity on campus. Among the recommendations were proposals to hire 98 minority professors and add two diversity courses to students’ general-education graduation requirements, beginning in fall 2004.
Minorities represent 16 percent of Uconn’s faculty, says Dr. Ronald L. Taylor, vice provost for multicultural affairs. Nearly 30 percent of the faculty is female, and approximately 32 percent of UConn’s administrators are women.
With more than 800 professors in the UConn system expected to retire in 10 years, the university can hire minority teachers without incurring added costs, adding that UConn’s goal in the next five years is to hire 65 female professors, 10 Blacks, nine Hispanics, four American Indians, and 10 of Asian descent.
“We have done well, but not well enough,” Taylor says.
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