As findings of a study evaluating diversity efforts at Oklahoma State University were released, one official said more needed to be done to include minority contractors in the discussion.
The yearlong self-study, which included input from OSU faculty, staff and students, was presented recently at a meeting of the board of regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges in Stillwater.
Some of the recommendations included increasing the number of students studying abroad, doing more international recruiting and developing classroom courses focusing on how inclusiveness benefits everyone.
The self-study is the first step in formalizing a systemwide diversity plan, officials said.
Regent Claud Evans asked how the diversity plan applied to including minorities in the hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts the university awards to outside vendors and said it would be “the same old ballgame” unless the process isn’t more thoroughly vetted.
“We’ve got to use our power as OSU to make certain the contractors include women and minorities,” he said. “We just have to keep the pressure there. They aren’t going to voluntarily do it.”
Cornell Thomas, OSU’s vice president for institutional diversity, said efforts are being made to track the number of minority vendors the university does business with, but more could be done to change the process.
“It’s not a number, this is a change in the culture,” he said. “If you talk to minority vendors now, they’ll say it’s not a welcoming culture.”
Input from more than 150 information-gathering sessions and a visit by an independent team of administrators and faculty went into the diversity report.
“Every voice that wanted to be heard was,” Thomas said.
Other recommendations include expanding the role of the Diversity Academic Support Office and stepping up efforts to increase access for nontraditional and economically disadvantaged students, among others.
One step is the university’s development of a set of courses addressing diversity that students will be required to take beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year.
Even as the number of females and minorities have increased at other universities, American Indians, Blacks, Asians and Hispanics make up less than 18 percent of the non-international student body and about 10 percent of the non-international faculty at OSU, according to 2006 university figures.
In addition to reviewing the diversity study, a new health care provider for system employees was chosen and officials announced a $20 million life insurance gift from two Houston alumni to benefit the College of Education and the Spears School of Business.
The regents also heard an update on recovery efforts at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, weeks after major flooding deluged the campus. Officials estimated the damage to be between $10 million and $12 million.
— Associated Press
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