DIVERSITY MAKES A UNIVERSITY
As a graduate student at the University of Northern Iowa, your personal safety, growth, and success is our Graduate College’s top priority. Considering 8%1 of UNI’s entire student body identify themselves as people of color and approximately 12%2 of our current graduate population identify as people of color, it is important to acknowledge racial inequity. Multiple campus-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives already underway are even more critical in light of racial violence at the national level and injustices in our local communities.
This spring the Graduate College staff completed Cultivating Justice: A Quest Towards Racial Equity. This eye-opening experience inspired our office to further commit to actively seeking equity in our institution. The Graduate College Graduate Assistant in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Tabitha Decker, has been instrumental in building and supporting DEI initiatives. She helped shape the Graduate College’s new Diversity and Inclusion Advancement Award, a renewable scholarship and funding opportunity for graduate students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds or who are underrepresented in ways specific to their academic discipline. The Graduate College is sponsoring a multicultural affinity group and an LGBTQ+ affinity group for graduate students. Associate Dean Dr. Gabriela Olivares and I host Coffee with the Dean events twice a month. Students are able to meet with us in an informal environment and share their concerns.
Students are supported at UNI. Nearly 60% of eligible graduate students received funding (graduate assistantships or tuition scholarships) from the Graduate College during the 2019-2020 school year. Academically, students have access to tutoring and writing support through free workshops and one-on-one assistance. The Panther Pantry is a food and necessities resource available to any UNI student facing food insecurity. Mental health and wellness resources include the UNI Counseling Center and Wellness Counseling services. The Graduate College is supporting mental health on campus by hiring an interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students who are teaming up with Active Minds to provide V-A-R training to peer mentors and other groups on campus.
UNI has multiple mechanisms to report suspected harassment or discrimination incidents and more information can be found in the Office of Compliance and Equity Management. Students can also contact Associate Dean Olivares within the Graduate College.
Diversity makes a university. Our campus is a more vibrant and creative place with diversity and diverse perspectives. The Graduate College appreciates, honors, and respects the similarities and differences of all our students. Your graduate education is a challenging and magical time. I hope you follow in the steps of current students like Hasina Jalal or alumni like Dr. Belinda Creighton-Smith and Waterloo mayor Quentin Hart and seize the unexpected opportunities at UNI.
Dr. Jennifer Waldron, Graduate College Dean
1 University of Northern Iowa. (2014). Extended campus community diversity facts. Retrieved March 25, 2021, from https://diversity.uni.edu/extended-campus-community-diversity-facts
2 Saavedra, D. (2021). Demographics: SP21 grad students [PowerPoint slides]. University of Northern Iowa Graduate College.
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Recent graduates agree they received a high-quality education
Students enrolled in Fall 2020
Recent graduates agree the quality of graduate teaching is excellent