The following vignettes give a quick snapshot of some of the best practices designed to create a more inclusive environment already in place at UF. Is your department or unit doing extraordinary work in this area? Email Your-Voice@ad.ufl.edu to share your story.
A bold approach to student and faculty recruitment
In 2014, College of Engineering Dean Cammy Abernathy demonstrated her commitment to the recruitment of outstanding faculty and students when she was able to attract Juan Gilbert, then Presidential Endowed Chair at Clemson University, to join the University of Florida as Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair and chair of the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE). To do so, Abernathy made the bold decision at the time to recruit Gilbert along with five of his fellow Clemson faculty, 2 postdocs and 20 graduate students — most of whom represent minority populations.
A strong advocate of diversity in the computing sciences, Gilbert's efforts to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the computing disciplines have been recognized by professional engineering organizations and the United States government. UF CISE is now ranked No. 1 in the country for the number of black Ph.D. students enrolled, with 16 percent of black women enrolled in computer science programs nationwide located at UF. The department employs twice the national average of black faculty members among the nation’s computer science programs. Nearly 11 percent of UF CISE students and 12 percent of its faculty are black.
See these recent news stories to learn more and to read about the extraordinary work happening in UF CISE:
- Solving for XX: UF seeks to create a more inclusive environment for women in STEM
- App aims to take the risk out of routine traffic stops
- UF and UW-Madison scholars team up to diversify STEM
- How universal design can help every voter cast a ballot
A collaborative approach to enhancing diversity and supporting inclusion
Recognizing the need to take a more proactive approach to diversity and inclusion in the face of limited resources, UF deans Diane McFarlin of the College of Journalism and Communications, Michael Reid of the College of Health & Human Performance and Laura Rosenberry of the Levin College of Law recently came together to establish a new shared director of inclusion position that will serve the three colleges. Among other efforts, the new director will help develop and implement strategies related to issues of inclusion and diversity within the colleges as well as develop and assess metrics for success.
Specifically, the new director will evaluate the colleges’ climate and recommend strategies and tactics to create a more inclusive culture, including those that address faculty recruitment, training and education, student and alumni programming and outreach, curriculum development and career preparation, among others. A multidisciplinary search committee is currently interviewing candidates, and an announcement of the candidate selected will be shared on this website.
Providing a space that respects differences and encourages participation
The Division of Recreational Sports has prioritized “inclusive recreation” through its efforts to provide a variety of accommodations for and equal access to its programs and facilities. In addition to providing physical accommodations, such as racquets with hand braces or adjustments to the instruction speed of its group fitness classes, RecSports recently introduced initiatives that aim to provide a space that is respectful of cultural differences.
RecSports has introduced bilingual fitness classes as well as a “Women’s Only Workout” (W.O.W.) designed to provide a time and workout space for women with cultural, religious or personal beliefs that prevent them from exercising in front of men. Leah Shelley, assistant director for Fitness Programs, designed and implemented RecSports first bilingual classes this year, which offer a welcoming environment to students who speak a variety of languages. Working with the Asian Pacific Islanders Association, a division of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, Shelley coordinates the new “W.O.W.” program, which offers a variety of group fitness workouts of the women’s choosing.
Experiential learning and public programming that advance UF’s commitment to diversity
On Jan. 21, during the Women’s March on Washington, the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program organized a timely experiential learning project for UF students to conduct field research. Seventeen UF student researchers gathered more than 150 interviews, documentary footage and data in an effort to shape how the momentous event is marked in history.
The collaboration provided students with the opportunity to interview people with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds at the presidential inauguration and the march, observe and learn from the juxtaposition of these two critical historic events, document the events and their impact, and create multimedia products that place the events and their meaning in historical context to bring the event to life for scholars, students and the public. As an outcome of the Women’s March on Washington Experiential Learning Project, UF has been invited to serve as the primary repository of the National Women’s March on Washington Archives.