YSU aims to step up diversity objectives
By Harold Gwin
By harold gwin
Youngstown State University has made a commitment to diversity over the last 12 years but now needs to “move beyond diversity to equity and inclusion,” said Yulanda McCarty- Harris, YSU director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
Much has been accomplished since former President Leslie Cochran formed a university/community task force in 1998 to address diversity after a Higher Learning Commission accreditation-team concern that minorities continued to be underrepresented among faculty, staff and students here, McCarty-Harris said.
President David C. Sweet made campus diversity one of his top priorities when he came to YSU in 2000 and made the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity a Cabinet-level position in 2001. Increasing the number of minorities across the campus community has been a continued focus throughout his tenure.
The university drew rave reviews from the Higher Learning Commission during its 2008 accreditation visit based on progress made in that area, McCarty-Harris said.
The number of minority students grew from 1,342 to 2,338 over that decade and stood at 2,884 last fall, and there are now international students from 35 counties on campus. Minority faculty increased from 45 to 75 between 1998 and 2008, and minority staff grew from 92 to 113 between 1999 and 2006, she said.
“Diversity enhances the college experience,” McCarty-Harris said, adding that the next step is to weave diversity into the social fabric of the institution.
The university community must strive to reflect a global village that supports the intellectual environment that values individuals with different ideas, thoughts, experiences, backgrounds and more, she said.
It goes beyond just counting the numbers. The university has to provide an environment of equal value and acceptance for all people and find a way to maintain it, she said.
That could require additional focus on things such as YSU’s international programs, its gay and lesbian population and its women’s studies programs, McCarty-Harris said.
She wants to have a plan of action in place in June.
It’s time to decide how to move to the next level, she said. “And, to me, that’s looking at diversity in a global sense.”