The University of Illinois Chicago has been recognized for its diversity efforts with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine for the seventh year.
UIC is one of 104 schools chosen to be part of Insight Into Diversity’s November issue. The magazine is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. Every year, the journal spotlights U.S. colleges and universities that show an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts.
The university was honored for its level of achievement and commitment to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach, according to the publication. UIC’s efforts to increase student recruitment, retention and completion — as well as hiring programs to diversify faculty — were noted, said Amalia Pallares, associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity at UIC.
“We are delighted to receive the Heed award again, as it means that our longstanding efforts to make the university more inclusive and equitable are visible not only in our UIC community, but at the national level,” Pallares said.
The university is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution.
Most recently, UIC was nationally cited by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings in categories measuring economic and ethnic diversity.
UIC is one of only 21 Research 1 HSI institutions in the country. It is recognized as one of the most ethnically rich and culturally diverse campuses in the nation and is a leader in providing access to underrepresented students. Around 80% of undergraduates receive financial assistance.
The latest enrollment numbers show that UIC continues to be one of the most diverse campuses in the country — 42% of freshmen are Hispanic, 21% are Asian and 8% are Black.
Among highlighted efforts to address graduation and retention of Black students was UIC’s DuSable Scholars Program, for students in STEM, as well as the African American Academic Network. For Latino students, UIC offers the Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science program, the Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services program and the Hispanic Center of Excellence.
“These programs are holistic social, cultural and academic programs that build learning communities to help students create a sense of belonging and build their confidence to succeed, graduate and develop their careers,” according to UIC’s application.
Additionally, this year UIC is launching a new academic support unit called the Asian American Student Academic Program to support Asian American students, in collaboration with AANAPISI. Officials are in the process of hiring an inaugural director who will lead efforts to implement academic support initiatives for the Asian American student population, enhance student transition from high school, assist students in acclimating to college learning strategies, and promote access, academic achievement, social integration, persistence and graduation of Asian American students. The director will provide leadership in promoting recruitment and academic support services to Asian American students to increase student enrollment, retention and graduation rates.
In addition, UIC officials noted that the implementation of a centralized system for sharing academic advising for undergraduate students, known as iAdvise, has helped new and returning students. To increase diversity in STEM fields of study, the DuSable Scholars Program was formed to attract and support underrepresented 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.
Diversity officials noted that retention efforts have led to more completed credit hours and increased GPAs. UIC also supports faculty professional development and student support initiatives that focus on race, ethnicity, gender or disability academic equity gaps.
Also highlighted were the campus’ efforts involving multiple STEM-focused, biomedical-focused and leadership programs in collaboration with local high schools and community colleges with large Latino, Native American and Black student populations. An example noted in the application was a Bridges to the Baccalaureate program that recruits students to UIC from Malcolm X Community College to focus on cancer research. Another example was UIC’s involvement with the Vamos a FermiLab program that offers summer internships at the national lab with the potential to be recruited as an employee after graduation.
An example of UIC’s efforts to diversify faculty ranks is the Bridge to Faculty program, which is designed to attract underrepresented postdoctoral scholars with the goal of transitioning them to a tenure-track junior faculty position after two years. The program “graduated” its first cohort to faculty status this fall.
In addition, UIC’s Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty program recruits and supports outstanding underrepresented graduate students interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member. The Underrepresented Faculty Recruitment Program also helps recruit diverse faculty members by providing additional research funding.