OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

‘Best practices’ commitment earns OSU national diversity award

12/03/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University’s commitment to promote diversity on campus has received a national “best practices” award for college programs.

Terryl Ross, director of OSU’s Office of Community and Diversity, accepted the “Committed to Diversity” Award recently from Minority Access Inc., a Washington, D.C.-area non-profit working to expand minority involvement in education, employment and research. About 30 universities and colleges received the 2008 honor, among them Southern California, Purdue, Ohio State, Colorado State, Auburn, Syracuse, New Mexico, and Michigan.

Oregon State and its fellow awardees “genuinely seem to appreciate the value of diversity in creating a well-rounded educational experience,” said Andrea D. Mickle, president of Minority Access. Minority Access looks for good role models, Ross said, and Oregon State’s multiple initiatives provided the organization with many examples, among them:

  • Diversity action plans within OSU colleges and schools across campus;
  • The only campus in the United States with six cultural centers, five of which are established in perpetuity through permanent covenants with the university;
  • A tenured faculty diversity-hiring initiative;
  • The “Differences-Power-Discrimination” class required of all OSU undergraduates;
  • The Women’s Advancement and Gender Equity (WAGE) office;
  • A vibrant international students program and expanded undergraduate study abroad program;
  • The “Voices Project,” which gives students an opportunity to have authentic dialogues about diversity;
  • Award-winning gay and lesbian support efforts;
  • And one of the largest and longest-standing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations for colleges in Oregon.

The “best practices” award “gives validity to our past and direction to our future,” Ross said.

“While it’s good to be in the same room with programs that are considered diversity leaders from across the country, I don’t go to bed thinking about how great we are. I go to bed thinking about what we need to do better,” he said. “The challenge is to be more proactive in our offices and classrooms. We still have too many people who feel marginalized on this campus.”

Ross observed that for OSU students to succeed after their university experience, they must be prepared to enter a world that is “far more diverse than that of their teachers. We have to help them to see diversity as a critical life skill and not as a politically correct issue. As Oregon’s land grant university, we should look like Oregon, and we should be its most inclusive and welcoming campus.”