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Equity and Diversity

East Tennessee State University

Strategic Diversity Plan

East Tennessee State University

2011-2015 Strategic Diversity Plan
February 2011

According to TBR Policy 1-9-00-00 Diversity, it is the intent of the Tennessee Board of Regents that the Board and all of the institutions within the TBR System will model and promote diversity at all levels and in all sectors and as a result of that diversity will foster environments of equality and inclusive excellence.

Diversity can be broadly defined as differences. When applied within the context of education and the educational community, diversity represents the inclusion and support of groups of people with a variety of human characteristics that go beyond the legally protected classes of race, sex, age, religion, national origin, disability status, veteran status -  to include, but not be limited to - , other categories such as socio-economic status, sexual orientation/gender identity, first generation college status, urban or rural upbringing and other personal characteristics that shape an individuals identity and life experience in a substantive way.

In the Statement of Policy, TBR specifically finds that diversity of students, faculty, administrators and staff is a crucial element of the educational process and reaffirms its commitment to enhancing education through affirmative actions to increase diversity at all levels. The creation and cultivation of programs, policies, and practices designed to increase and sustain diversity is essential in order to be responsive to:

  1. Shifting demographics;
  2. The need to prepare students to succeed in a global and interconnected world;
  3. The need to utilize the talents, experiences, and ideas of a broad group of people in order to achieve excellence;
  4. The needs of the corporate, civic, and educational environs for culturally competent individuals; and;
  5. The unique mission and vision of the Tennessee Board of Regents and its institutions.

Under TBR Policy 1-9-00-00 Diversity it is the responsibility of each campus to engaging in diversity planning and diversity program implementation on a continuous basis.

With the passage of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 (CCTA), a framework was provided for policy decisions related to higher education with the ultimate objective of increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees. The CCTA requires TBR institutions to review policies and practices so that additional focus is directed toward retaining students through successful completion of their programs of study. These policies and practices must also focus on increasing the number of traditionally underrepresented students who come into the TBR system and are completers.

East Tennessee State is committed to increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees. ETSU is also committed to sustaining a university community that promotes and supports diversity. ETSU must strategically plan for diversity in order to achieve its goals.

East Tennessee State University Vision:

Become the University of Choice in the region and the best regional university in the nation.

East Tennessee State University Mission:

East Tennessee State University prepares students to become productive, enlightened citizens who actively serve their communities and our world.  Education is the university's foremost goal.  ETSU provides outstanding programs of study, enhanced access to education, distinctive education and research opportunities, and a variety of distance education offerings to attract students from around the region and the world.

ETSU affirms that a diverse population is necessary for the intellectual, social, economic, and professional development of our campus and regional communities.  Innovation and integration of educational programs, opportunities and scholarly activities enable ETSU to enrich the cultural and intellectual environment, advance economic development, and increase the level of educational attainment of our community and region.  Innovation is advanced through entrepreneurial initiatives, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community and international partnerships.  The research mission of ETSU advances scholarly and creative activity that enhances the teaching and learning environment and benefits the regional, national, and global communities we serve. 

ETSU awards degrees in over one hundred baccalaureate, masters and doctoral programs, including distinctive interdisciplinary programs. The university provides strong, comprehensive educational, research, and service programs in the health sciences that advance the health and wellness of people throughout Tennessee and Southern Appalachia and of rural populations around the world.  ETSU affirms the value of a liberal education and life-long learning by providing broadly enriching experiences through opportunities such as honors education, student research and creative activities, international study, community service, internships, and professional development.  ETSU also affirms the importance of a total college experience by offering a rich campus life of cultural and artistic programs, diverse student activities, a variety of residential opportunities, and outstanding recreational and intercollegiate athletic programs.

East Tennessee State University Values:

ETSU pursues its mission through a student-centered community of learning reflecting high standards and promoting a balance of liberal arts and professional preparation, continuous improvement, and based on core values where:

  • People come first, are treated with dignity and respect, and are encouraged to achieve their full potential;
  • Relationships are built on honesty, integrity, and trust;
  • Diversity of people and thought is respected;
  • Excellence is achieved through teamwork, leadership, creativity, and a strong work ethic;
  • Efficiency is achieved through wise use of human and financial resources; and
  • Commitment to intellectual achievement is embraced.

East Tennessee State University recognizes that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is enriched by an environment in which people of diverse backgrounds learn together and from each other, and participate in free and genuine exchange of views. It recognizes that all members of the University community benefit from diversity and that the quality of learning, research, scholarship and creative activities is enhanced by a campus climate of inclusion, understanding, and appreciation of differences and the full range of human experience. ETSU must prepare students to function successfully in a diverse society. A university diverse in its people, curricula, scholarship, research, and creative activities expands opportunities for intellectual inquiry and engagement, helps students develop critical thinking skills, and prepares students for social and civic responsibilities.

ETSU aspires to be an institution that celebrates diversity by welcoming all students, faculty, administrators and staff as respected and valued participants in the University's educational mission. Therefore, ETSU welcomes people of different races, ethnicities, religions, creeds, national origins, genders, sexual orientation/gender identity, physical abilities, ages, veteran status, and social, economic, or educational backgrounds. ETSU is particularly committed to welcoming groups that have been traditionally underrepresented or excluded. The University also supports and encourages the promotion of diversity in its curricula, programs, faculty research, scholarship, and creative activities.

Goal 1: Student Access

ETSU is committed to increase the participation level of traditionally underrepresented students. Within this plan Hispanic and Black students have been identified as targeted groups to monitor progress. 

Goal 1.1: Increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate students that enroll at ETSU.


  1. Identify enrollment demographics, by college, departments, programs and units to determine what student groups are underrepresented.
  2. Identify major and program enrollment demographics that determine if student groups are underrepresented in some majors.
  3. Develop recruitment strategies targeting high school students from underrepresented groups that would include initiatives such as:
    • Participation in dual enrollment,
    • Partnerships with high schools that have high concentration of students from underrepresented groups;
    • Developing outreach programs targeting underrepresented students;
    • Developing summer programs on campus for underrepresented students.
  1. Review both merit and need based scholarship for opportunities for underrepresented students.


  1. By the end of the Academic year 2012, a working group will have reviewed enrollment demographics by college, department, and program and determined which student groups are underrepresented by major and program.
  2. A team from Enrollment Management will develop a marketing plan by Fall 2012 that will address recruiting underrepresented students.
  3. A working group from various Student Affairs areas will develop a summer program to be implemented in the summer 2012.
  4. The Scholarship Office and the Office of Equity and Diversity will develop a plan to increase the participation of underrepresented students in scholarship programs.

Goal 1.2: Increase participation of traditionally underrepresented students in graduate programs particularly in doctoral programs.


  1. Review current recruitment strategies for doctoral programs and the effectiveness of recruiting diverse students.
  2. Based on best practices develop strategies to recruit diverse students into doctoral programs.
  3. Evaluate and develop scholarship, fellowship and assistantship opportunities for diverse students.


  1. By the end of the 2011-12 academic year, an inventory of doctoral program will be complete with a review of recruitment practices and the demographics of the students in each program by the Graduate School.
  2. A committee of representatives from the graduate and professional schools will review best practices and develop recruitment strategies to be completed by the end 2012.

Goal 1.3: Increase participation of traditionally underrepresented students in Medicine and Pharmacy.


  1. Review best practices for recruitment of underrepresented students in to professional schools.
  2. Develop and implement a pipeline of qualified underrepresented students to recruit from.
  3. Review and develop criteria for Access & Diversity funded scholarships for those who have been identified as underrepresented. Appropriate evaluations will be conducted annually and changes made as needed.


  1. Review of best practices for recruiting underrepresented students in to medicine and pharmacy will be done by the Health Science Diversity Council during 2011.
  2. Each year representatives responsible for awarding Access and Diversity scholarships will evaluate the available data and alter any criteria needed to reflect underrepresented groups.

Goal 2: Student Success

ETSU is committed to increase the retention and graduation rates for all students. ETSU is also committed to improve the retention rate and graduation rate of Black students which lags behind all other student groups.

Goal 2.1: Increase the retention rate of traditionally underrepresented students.


  1. Review and analyze data trends for retention from academic year to academic year by underrepresented groups.
  2. Identify retention rates by major and student groups.
  3. Identify, review and evaluate current retention programs to determine effectiveness.
  4. Review best practices for student success of underrepresented students.
  5. Develop or enhance programs that are aimed at increasing success rates of students from underrepresented groups.


  1. Collect and analyze relevant retention trends to establish baseline data for 2011-12 by the Student Success Team. Increase percentages will be set for each year based on this data.
  2. Make recommendations for programs based on best practices that will increase the retention of underrepresented students.

Goal 2.2: Increase the graduation rate of traditionally underrepresented students.


  1. Review and analyze graduation trends by underrepresented groups.
  2. Identify graduation rates by major and student groups.


  1. The Student Success Team will collect and analyze graduation trends for all groups of students to establish group baseline data for 2011.
  2. Increase in the retention rates will increase the completion rates for students including underrepresented students.

Goal 3: Diverse Faculty, Administrators, and Staff:

ETSU is committed to recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, administrators and staff that reflect a wide range of racial/ethnic groups, gender, cultures, and perspectives.

Goal 3.1: Recruit and retain diverse faculty.


  1. Review and analyze faculty demographic data to determine which employee groups are underrepresented by college/department.
  2. Develop strategies and recruitment plans for academic departments for increasing the number of faculty from underrepresented groups.
  3. Inventory and review current faculty development and retention practices for effectiveness.
  4. Coordinate or develop faculty retention programs including professional development opportunities, mentoring and research opportunities.


  1. A formal analysis will be conducted annually through the Affirmative Action Plan for underrepresented groups that are included in the plan.
  2. Best practice recruitment strategies for recruiting diverse faculty will be established by 2013.
  3. An inventory of faculty retention programs will be available to assist faculty with tenure and promotion through Academic Affairs.

Goal 3.2 Recruit administrators from underrepresented groups as defined by the Affirmative Action Plan.


1. Conduct searches in accord to with TBR and ETSU guidelines and procedures that diverse pools of persons are aware of the employment opportunities of the University.

2. Search committees advertise in such a manner to reach qualified underrepresented groups.

3. Ensure that fair and equitable evaluations are made of applicants from diverse groups.


  1. Before a job is advertised, a recruitment plan is submitted to the Office of Equity and Diversity for approval which includes outreach efforts for underrepresented groups.
  2. A formal analysis will be conducted annually through the Affirmative Action Plan for underrepresented groups included in the plan.

Goal 4: Campus Environment and Climate.

ETSU recognizes that all members of the University community benefit from diversity and that the quality of learning, research, scholarship and creative activities is enhanced by a campus climate of inclusion, understanding, and appreciation of differences and the full range of human experience.

Goal: 4.1:  Reorganize the Access and Diversity Committee.


  1. Restructure current standing committees of Presidents Council on Diversity, Race  Relations, Commission for Women, and the Disability Services into one Access and Diversity Committee.


  1. One standing committee which will eliminate duplication will address a board spectrum of issues. This will be the Access and Diversity Committee and report to the President. This committee will also monitor the Diversity Strategic Plan. Reorganized committee will be in place by Spring 2012.

Goal 4.2: Add an additional optional category to the faculty evaluation related to diversity activities.


  1. Faculty annual evaluation will take into account and recognize an individuals contribution to the enhancement of the climate for diversity at the University and community, through their scholarship, creative activities, teaching, mentoring, seeking external support, service, and outreach activities.


  1. Explore the feasibility of adding an additional category to the faculty evaluation that will address commitment to diversity. Establish a plan to begin using this optional category for faculty during the evaluation cycle 2013-14.

Goal 4.3: Add an additional optional category to the staff evaluation related to diversity activities.


  1. Committee with representatives from Human Resources, Equity and Diversity and Staff Senate will review feasibility and develop a plan for including in the annual evaluations staffs contribution to  the climate and diversity of the University and community through customer service, projects, services or other relevant activities.

Goal 4.4: Require departments to include a uniform diversity statement on all syllabi to let students know that ETSU has policies against discrimination based on the stated protected areas.


  1. Faculty Senate will develop a recommended statement for inclusion into syllabi.


  1. By the end of summer 2011, a statement will be developed. By Fall 2011 25% of the academic departments will have the statement in the syllabi. By Fall 2012 at least 75% of academic departments will have a statement in the syllabi.

Goal 4.5: Provide diversity programming and training for faculty, staff and students.


  1. ETSU requires on-line training on diversity, sexual harassment and discrimination and Title VI.
  2. ETSU will provide diverse programming opportunities.


  1. Secure funding sources for on-line training and programming.

Goal 4.6: Establish a student training program related to communication with other students about differences which would include the negative effects of remarks, oppression, stereotypes or being a member of a marginalized group.


  1. Enhance and support the Student Diversity Educators Program which was originally funded through an Access and Diversity Grant.
  2. Student Affairs to provide training and programming related to Diversity that will address student issues.


  1. Institutional funding for the Student Diversity Educators program and other related programs will be identified by Fall 2012 by Student Affairs and the Office of Equity and Diversity.
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