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February 23, 2007

Purdue plans to increase diversity with more funding, new center

Sally Mason
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue officials unveiled a plan on Friday (Feb. 23) that will offer recruitment initiatives and advancement opportunities to strengthen the climate for diversity, and the university also announced a $1.2 million grant that will help build the new Native American Education and Cultural Center.

The campuswide initiative is part of Mosaic, a plan that will serve as a foundation for all multicultural educational projects at Purdue, Provost Sally Mason said at a dinner held to introduce the plan.


"Mosaic is designed to work with other campus diversity initiatives to help the university move toward a climate that allows all people to thrive," Mason said. "Purdue invests more than $16 million annually in diversity programs and initiatives, and we expect to increase that by $8 million in the next five years. This funding is one of the critical pieces that will help us centralize what is already a vibrant collection of programs that make up the 'mosaic.'"

The effort will be supported by general funds, sponsored research funds, reallocations and private giving. Key priorities call on all components of the university to participate in many ways, including:

*  Creating a position for a representative to address individual and collective issues affecting employees.

*  Searching for qualified members of underrepresented populations for senior level and key leadership appointments.

*  Developing a promotion system that gives non-faculty employees equitable opportunities with a goal to advance diversity.

*  Encouraging incentives that promote in-depth cultural studies as well as the development of academic environments that reflect multiple points of view.

*  Involving visiting international leaders and scholars in order to expand programs on global issues and perspectives.

An example of how those priorities will be visualized is the Native American Cultural Center, developed by a panel of faculty, students and staff working on a program called the Tecumseh Project. The group was formed to promote the recruitment and retention of Native American students at Purdue.

The project received a $1.2 million grant from the Sloan Foundation to support 28 Native American graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines over the next three years. The provost and other academic and administrative units are providing more than $40,000 for support of the center.

"The Black Cultural Center has been a visible representation of Purdue's commitment to cultural diversity since 1969, and we built upon that concept with the Latino Cultural Center, which moved into a new, more central location on campus last spring," Mason said. "We will benefit from the success of these models as we design the Native American Cultural Center, which we hope to open this spring."

Another key announcement related to Mosaic is the appointment of Purdue alumna Dorothy Reed to a newly created assistant provost position to coordinate the academic diversity plan. Reed, who is coming to Purdue from Michigan State University where she was director of the Office of Supportive Services, will implement the agenda as well as report on annual progress.

Much of Reed's work will center on academic and retention programming aimed at enriching the educational experience for minorities on campus, Mason said. In addition, Reed will assist the provost in identifying needs, opportunities, priorities and activities in the broader area of educational equity.

Reed also will provide direct oversight and management of Purdue's ethnic cultural centers, including the Black Cultural Center, Latino Cultural Center and the Native American Cultural Center.

Another new assistant provost will be Pamella P. Dale Shaw, who has been working in the Provost's office as statewide director of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation for Indiana and as alliance director for the Midwest Crossroads Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate.

Shaw will continue to work with these National Science Foundation-funded programs that aim to help increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She also will expand sponsored programming and diversity initiatives.

Writer: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432,

Source: Sally Mason, (765) 494-9709,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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