Utah Valley inclusiversity

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On Nov. 18 UVU will hold a first-of-its-kind event for discussing the university’s current inclusivity situation and goals for the future.

The two-hour event, held for faculty and staff, will feature a presentation and conversation among those attending to obtain feedback and ideas.

When President Matthew Holland first came to UVU, he introduced four core values (Student Success, Engaged, Inclusive, and Serious) that he wanted everything at UVU to revolve around.  The school feels that through business and community outreach the Engaged Learning core value is excelling.   The school wants to make greater strides in the Inclusivity core value, however.

Part of UVU’s unique atmosphere is our extensive student diversity.  This diversity can be found in where students come from, personal beliefs, religious affiliations, sexual orientation, age, etc.  It’s for this reason that in September, President Holland created the Strategic Inclusion Plan Committee.  This committee is made up of 14 members of school staff, including, Dr. Kyle Reyes (special assistant to the president), David Connelly (history and political science department), J.C. Graham (program coordinator for suicide prevention and awareness on campus), and Michelle Taylor (vice president of student affairs).

“Inclusive efforts in the past have usually been sort of on-off things or piece-meal,” said Dr. Kyle Reyes, special assistant to the president.  “What President Holland is looking for is a more conclusive plan, which lead to the formation of this group.”

The Strategic Inclusion Plan committee meets every week for a few hours, and they’ve been crafting ideas to accomplish their goals for inclusion over the next four to five years.

At their presentation on Monday they will be pitching what they have come up with to the rest of the faculty at the school.  The first hour will be a presentation from Reyes outlining the Strategic Inclusion Plan committee’s ideas and concerns. The second hour will be an open dialogue for the attendees.

They are hoping for a positive conversation about ideas they have organized and a chance to take suggestions from faculty all over campus that interact with students on a daily basis.

“What we’re discussing at this presentation is for the students, and in the future we’d like to hold a presentation that’s available for students to attend as well,” said Reyes.  “Self-improvement is a big focus for us.  It’s about all of us getting better and improving ourselves.”

Some of the current areas of focus for the committee are reaching out to under-represented cultures in our community through programs like the Native American Initiative, Latino Initiative, and Pacific Islander Initiative.

The Native American Initiative offers a variety of out-of-state Native Americans of different tribes to pay in-state tuition and gives members of other tribes an opportunity to qualify for in-state tuition rates after a year of attending the university.

UVU has also sought inclusiveness for Pacific Island students, which has lead to an increase of students from these locations.  In the years between 2005 and 2010 the amount of Pacific Island students increased from 189 to 422.

Another current priority area is to improve inclusivity for the growing number of students who have children and are in need of financial need.  In September, the expanded Wee Care Center was opened. The center is a critical support for many students who are attending school and are in need of affordable daycare for their children.

“The Strategic Inclusion Plan is a way to identify and support the current initiatives and to identify areas that still need to be addressed,” said Michelle Taylor, vice president of student affairs.  “The committee has been extremely helpful in identifying the gaps for under-represented groups at UVU.”