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Graduate School Introduces New Diversity Programs

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With an expanded mission and focus, the Graduate School Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion (GSOGDI) is concluding its first year of enhanced recruitment and retention efforts and expanded programming. These efforts aim to increase the University of Maryland’s ability to attract students from underrepresented and underserved minority groups and to equip them with tools for success.

GSOGDI began the year by creating partnerships with other campus units to enhance recruitment efforts. The Graduate School and its partners represented the University of Maryland, at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and events sponsored by the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. In addition, GSOGDI coordinated recruitment efforts through the university’s membership in the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers’ university consortium.

In the spring, GSOGDI also launched a new Spring Speaker Series and two Conversations on Diversity. The Speaker Series featured several experts on issues of race and diversity of interest to graduate students. They included Dr. Deborah A. Santiago, co-founder, COO, and Vice President for Policy at Excelencia in Education, a leading not-for-profit organization studying Latino student success in higher education. Other speakers included UMD alumni Drs. Maurice Dorsey and Mel Michelle Lewis, journalist Autumn Arnett, and dissertation writing expert Dr. Alecia Eubanks. The speaker series was co-sponsored by the Departments of American Studies and Women's Studies, the College of Education, and the Pepsi Enhancement Fund from the Stamp Division of Student Affairs. The Conversations on Diversity events—“Navigating University Culture” and “Impacting University Culture” were interactive conversations between graduate students, Graduate School staff, and others. The first conversation featured faculty and administrators speaking with students about the institutional culture in which they all live and work. The second conversation was a workshop on skills and solutions for common problems that students encounter during the course of their studies.

These events were included in Maryland Dialogues on Diversity and Community, a series of events, lectures, symposia, discussions and listening sessions to help the university community advance discussions of identity, difference and commonality. 

 “We sent out a survey to graduate students from underrepresented and underserved minority groups to see what kind of programming and services they would find helpful,” says Christopher Perez, associate director of GSOGDI. “Student response overwhelmingly indicated a desire to see speakers who could address a variety of issues related to diversity in graduate education.”

GSOGDI coordinates the Graduate School’s many ongoing diversity initiatives, including the NSF-Funded PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), the Ronald E. McNair Graduate Fellowship Program, and the new NIH-funded National Research Mentoring Network – CIC Academic Network (NRMN-CAN—a program that provides professional development for underrepresented graduate students, post-docs, and junior faculty in the biomedical sciences.

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