Excellence is Inclusive at UW-Superior - Mar 19, 2014 - University News - UW-Superior News and Events

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Excellence is Inclusive at UW-Superior

Posted on Mar 19, 2014
All universities claim to strive for academic excellence. But what good is excellence if it excludes those who could most benefit from it?
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Cultural Night 2013 at UW-Superior

Cultural Night 2013 at UW-Superior

Enter Making Excellence Inclusive, one of UW-Superior's top priorities.

Chancellor Renée Wachter embraces this mission of diversity, equity and inclusivity, and she believes the campus shares her commitment.

"The University of Wisconsin-Superior is committed to the maintenance of a learning environment which embraces diversity and multiple perspectives," said Chancellor Wachter. "It strives to ensure inclusion and access to higher education and for equity in educational outcomes. We risk being a country which is becoming divided, not by material goods, but by the fundamental access to opportunity, to the experience which provides representation and shaping of our local and national dialogues and activities. It is our role as a public educational institution to help the people waiting on our educational doorstep."

Being one of the top priorities for the campus community, the Making Excellence Inclusive committee, comprised of various faculty, staff and students from across campus, is focused on five key initiatives for the year. Those include building a stronger sense of community across campus, diversifying our recruitment efforts for faculty and staff, educating campus on harassment and civility issues and resources, and the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students.

International diversity

This year, international students from 39 countries make up about 8 percent of the total enrollment at UW-Superior. That's a sizeable presence in a small campus community. In fact, it is the highest percentage of international undergraduate students among all UW campuses after Madison.

The Office of International Programs works to recruit international students. Once they're here, it helps them feel at home away from home. It offers everything from meals during semester breaks to support dealing with student visa issues to trips to places like Bayfield's Apple Festival and the Mall of America. It encourages international students to join student groups and explore the community and all it has to offer.

The program also offers extensive study abroad programs, which help foster respect for diverse cultures and promote global knowledge and proficiency among the general student body. For some participants, it's the first time they've set foot outside of the United States.

Last year, 42 students took part in study abroad programs, whether in Scotland, France, Germany, Costa Rica or elsewhere. Another three took part in a domestic student exchange program that includes study at participating U.S. and Canadian colleges. Participating students say it was a life-changing experience for them.

Diverse life experience

Veterans and their families are making a big impact on campus as well. UW-Superior strives to make the transition from military service to university student as easy as possible, understanding it can be a difficult process for both veterans and their families.

In fall 2013, 86 veteran students were enrolled and another 54 students were dependents or a spouse of a military member. A total of 140 students receive G.I. Bill benefits and that includes undergraduate, graduate and online students. For the fourth year in a row UW-Superior has been named a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine.

The Veteran and Nontraditional Student Center on campus not only assists and serves these students, they provide programming and a welcoming inclusive area for students to thrive.

A large part of the diverse student population at UW-Superior comes in the form of nontraditional students, defined as being age 25 or older. That group makes up 35 percent of the entire student body. Sixteen percent of students are also parents and are juggling both family and school responsibilities. A new student organization, "Got Kids?" has started to provide more resources and promote current learning opportunities. The UW-Superior Child Care Subsidy program is money granted to enrolled UW-Superior students with children in one of five child care centers.

These veteran and nontraditional students add different dimensions to the academic experience for the entire student body. They are able to add to classroom discussions by sharing their life experiences.

Multicultural diversity

The Office of Multicultural Affairs is dedicated to the academic and social success of African American, American Indian, Asian American and Hispanic/Latino students. It offers specific recruitment programming throughout the year, such as the College Student for a Day program, while fostering a climate of respect for all people and cultures.

The office also manages the Multicultural Center, Old Main 232, a 2,500-square-foot space that honors and represents cultures in artwork and reading materials. Cultural awareness programs offered there allow the entire campus and greater community the chance to learn about diverse cultures.

Community award winner

Each year the Office of Multicultural Affairs honors a person who has made a difference in the community.

This year it was former UW-Superior student athlete and coach Carl Crawford, Class of 2008. Crawford won the Community Diversity Award as a community member connected to UW-Superior who has helped persons of color and enriched the community.

Crawford, the Intercultural Center coordinator at Lake Superior College, said "I'm honored and humbled that UW-Superior chose me as the diversity award winner this year. I have great memories of being part of the campus and the Black Student Union group.

UW-Superior is committed to diversity for all students, faculty and staff."

Alvin (Chip) Beal, diversity coordinator at UW-Superior, said they couldn't have chosen a better representative for the award. "I believe Carl is what this award is all about. He not only lives in the community, and works in the community, he is community. Carl embodies encouragement and exudes that to everyone he comes in contact with. When you meet Carl, you just want to be a better person."

Latino broadcaster

UW-Superior graduate Tony Hernandez, Class of 1984, is a shining example of UW-Superior's mission in action.

A recent commencement keynote speaker, a young Hernandez and his family moved to this country and were forced to learn a new culture. He challenges students to "cultivate empathy, live life with urgency and to push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone."

Tony is co-founder, president and CEO of the Latino Broadcasting Company. He also returned to campus at the end of September to address the students as part of the Diversity Dialogue Series.

Native scholarship winner

Alex Gokee, a member of the Red Cliff, Wis., Band of Ojibwe, helps promote inclusivity on campus on a daily basis. A Bayfield High School graduate, Gokee is seeking a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/First Nations Health and is chairman of the Circle of Native Nations student organization.

Gokee says he sees the campus making strides in diversity. "UW-Superior has a lot of different resources to help students get acclimated to campus settings, which include the Circle of Native Nations student organization and the First Nations Center. Other resources include World Student Association and the Multicultural Center. The professors are always very helpful when it comes to classes and sitting down with you."

Gokee is this year's Native American Scholarship recipient and has been very active in campus life. Along with the Circle of Native Nations, he has been involved in athletics, intramurals and officiating. In October 2013, Alex attended the National Indian Education Association's annual conference in Rapid City, S.D., and co-presented with assistant professor of First Nations Studies Gary Johnson on a Native model for health and wellness. The topic, "An Anishinaabe/Ojibwe Cultural-based Model of Health and Wellness," explored ways to get people healthier using Ojibwe ways of life like hunting, fishing, and gathering.

Recognized by NativeVillage.Org

UW-Superior was listed among the top 200 colleges and universities throughout the United States that support Native American students in Winds of Change 2012-2013: Top 200 Special College Issue, published by Nativevillage.org. UW-Superior was just one of two UW System schools to earn the honor.

The 35th Annual Red Cliff Traditional Pow Wow was held July 5-7 on the Red Cliff Ojibwe Reservation in Red Cliff, Wis., near Bay?eld. This year, many people affiliated with UW-Superior attended, including Chancellor Renée Wachter, prospective and current students, alumni, staff, and current and retired faculty members.

Andrea Boulley DeBungie, Class of 2008, and her husband Dennis were head dancers, an important role in the powwow. Regarding the university's involvement, she said, "I believe it was a step in the right direction for promoting higher education within our native community. It showed that Chancellor Wachter respects and cares about our culture, and wants to build relationships. These are values I try to teach my students."

Andrea is a teacher at Bayfield High School, and says UW-Superior is an easy decision for some Native American students. "They are made to feel welcome, and the faculty and sta? in the First Nations Center and Office of Multicultural Affairs are a large part of that."

Gender diversity

UW-Superior also is committed to diversity in gender and gender identity. Along with having a Women's and Gender Studies minor, there are other examples across campus including a Gender Equity Resource Center.

Each student arrives at UW-Superior with a mission to learn, develop skills and discover who they really are. A good example is Nathalie Crowley, Class of 2011, a transgender student who transitioned during her time here at UW-Superior. As an undergraduate student, she was accepted into the McNairScholars program and is now pursuing her graduate degree in sociology.

"In my time at UW-Superior I saw a great interest in providing space for and listening to different voices. While it is a small campus in northern Wisconsin, there is a strong presence of student groups and university offices supporting the many different racial and cultural groups represented in the student body."

She added, "I have professors who I still keep in contact with years after having classes with them, and there are staff members who have been a huge part of my professional development outside of the university. They all want to see me succeed."

Making a difference

Crowley received the 2013 Woman of Color Award at UW-Superior, again highlighting and supporting those that are making a difference in the community. "When I was president of the LGBTQ student group there was a freshman who was part of the group. While she was very active in LGBTQ issues, she really could not see beyond her own privileged life experience. What was amazing to me was coming back a few years later and seeing how she had grown and learned how to look outside of her own experience. These are the skills leaders need and obviously UW-Superior is providing students with the tools, experience and education needed to learn these skills."

Crowley continues to make a difference in the community as a program coordinator at PAVSA, an organization that helps and supports people who have survived sexual assault in the Twin Ports area.

She was the co-founder and facilitator of the Lake Superior Transgender Group and highly recommends UW-Superior to everyone based on how it shaped her life. "I am impressed at how the university has worked towards inclusion of all students in academics, programming and recruitment. While no campus is perfect, UW-Superior was something like an oasis to me in Northern Wisconsin, a place where I was able to express myself and feel relatively safe in doing so."

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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