Weber State changes structure to increase campus diversity

Weber State University in Ogden on Tuesday announced its biggest change to the school’s organizational structure in nearly 30 years. It consolidates five existing programs, centers and offices into a new division called Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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OGDEN — In the biggest change to the university’s organizational structure in nearly 30 years, Weber State University announced Tuesday that it will combine five existing programs, centers and offices into a new equity division, of diversity and inclusion.

“At the center of this strategic plan is an equity framework — which we modeled after the equity framework of the Utah higher education system — to ensure that we serve all of our students,” said Adrienne. Andrews, who was appointed to serve as the division’s first vice president.

“It’s meeting a lot of different people where they are and making sure that we’re doing everything we can to not only welcome those students to our campus, but also to make sure that once they’re here, they have every chance of succeeding.”

Andrews said the creation of the new division is in “direct alignment” with the goals and thrusts of the school’s strategic plan, and builds on the trajectory she and the university have worked toward the past 17 years.

When it comes to the specific goals and initiatives Andrews hopes to advance in her role as vice president, the first priority is to ensure the Weber state is fair in its efforts and practices.

“That means reviewing policies, protocols and practices and making necessary changes where we find them,” she said.

Additionally, Andrews highlighted work on the university’s commitment to becoming an emerging Hispanic-serving institution by increasing the percentage of students who identify as Hispanic or Latino to 15% by 2025. .

“Our growing Hispanic/Latinx population is significant and we need to focus on increasing enrollment and engagement for these students, and all of our students,” Andrews added. “Looking at our Black, Indigenous, Asian American and Pacific Islander students, our international students and ensuring that the program services and resources we provide enable them to elevate their education so they can be members committed to our community and truly, serving the driving economy for northern Utah.”

To help achieve the goal of becoming an Institution Serving Emerging Hispanics, a new position of Director of Institution Serving Emerging Hispanics will also be created with the support of Allied Financial and will report to both the new Vice President and the President.

“It means enhancing the work we’re already doing while looking beyond where we are today and saying, ‘What are the meaningful ways we can engage our people?'” Andrews said. “Looking at traditional-aged students as well as non-traditional students and finding appropriate avenues to leverage our relationships with local technology colleges who are incredible partners in this work.”

The new division combines the Center for Diversity and Unity, Center for Multicultural Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion Programs, LGBT Resource Center and Office of Diversity – Director of Diversity to provide a focal point of leadership for equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. It also advances the university’s goal of “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” outlined in the university’s strategic plan, Weber State Amplified.

“Adrienne is a trusted and respected leader on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion in the State of Utah,” Weber State University President Brad Mortensen said in a statement. “She knows Weber State and our community and can step in from day one to provide leadership and alignment as we work toward the shared goals and vision outlined in our strategic plan. She has the full support of our trustees, administration and myself and look forward to working alongside him as we move these efforts forward.”

Changing the student body

Andrews said there was a need to do things differently at Weber State to accommodate changing student demographics.

“The students we serve are now different and that means we have to figure out how to meet the needs of the students we have and the students we plan to come to our campus and it’s about raising the standard of excellence to all,” she said.

Andrews has held various positions to advance diversity issues at the university for nearly two decades, most recently as Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Chief Diversity Officer. During these years, she has been surrounded by conversations among students on issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion.

“They’re looking for more support, different kinds of support. They want to see their own reflections in people who are here at college,” Andrews said.

To do this, the university will need to increase its efforts to hire, retain, and promote faculty and staff of color, as well as other underserved populations, including first-generation, LGBTQ, and people. disabilities.

“We know our students want this and we are actively committed to developing these opportunities for people to be here on campus and to be included, owned and part of the Weber State way,” Andrews said.

Additionally, she said, students are seeking the creation of identity-related cultural hubs, increased programming as well as more scholarships and financial aid opportunities.

“These are all efforts that we have worked diligently across the institution, but now I think we have a structure in place to help us streamline this process to get these things done,” Andrews said.

“We know this transformational effort will result in more educated community members, greater access to learning and opportunity, stronger partnerships with our technology colleges, and improved pipelines for our employment sectors.”

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