With an enrollment of more than 52,000 students at the University of Minnesota, diversity plays a huge role not only in the classroom but in campus and community involvement as a whole. As President Eric Kaler makes his final decision over the coming weeks concerning who will become the new vice president for equity and diversity, we hope that whomever is chosen will work to develop and maintain programs dedicated to continued support of diversity throughout the University
Both candidates, Karen Dace and Katrice Albert, currently hold administrative positions in diversity offices at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Louisiana State University, respectively, as reported by the Minnesota Daily on Nov. 5. They are aware of the issues we face in incorporating diversified perspectives into our academic programs and of the challenge to create support for diversity initiatives among non-minorities. We hope that the chosen finalist will strive to garner support for increasing and celebrating diversity not only through academic programs but also by creating opportunities for students and faculty to be engaged with a greater range of cultural perspectives at the University.
Discussions about diversity among students are often relegated to conversations and questions raised within specific student groups. Minority students are often the only ones asked to comment on the importance of cultural variety in a college environment. Working to increase student-to-student interaction is important, especially in an atmosphere filled with so many unique and different ethnic and social backgrounds. Students can learn just as much from each other as they can in class, and the University will greatly benefit if the next vice president for equity and diversity understands this.