Cultural Diversity

a group of four people attending the international festival at scc

What Are We Trying to Accomplish?

The Office for Cultural Diversity was established in July 2005 to plan and implement a comprehensive program that promotes diversity in the College. Our annual International Festival is just one example of this effort.

What is Diversity?

The recognition and understanding of the similarities and differences between ourselves and other people based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or nationality. (Approved by the KCTCS Faculty Council, Spring 2006)

Why is This Important?

As an educational institution that provides life-long learning opportunities, Somerset Community College through the Office of Cultural Diversity seeks to:

  • Improve access and success of underrepresented students in higher education;
  • Redress current underrepresentation of minority faculty, staff and administrators;
  • Prepare all students to work in a global, multicultural society; and
  • Lead the larger community to embrace diversity, which can spur innovation and creativity, both of which are important economic drivers.

What are the Proposed Objectives?

  • To assist with the recruitment and retention of a diverse student population
  • To assist with the recruitment of a diverse workforce at all levels (administrators, staff and faculty) of the college;
  • To develop and provide cultural diversity training for all college employees
  • To seek expansion and transformation of the curriculum to address diversity issues (i.e. experiential learning, immersion and exchange programs, multicultural course work, etc); and
  • To raise awareness and appreciation of diverse people and their cultures by sponsoring special events and activities.

Diversity Action Plan Highlights

Somerset Community College acknowledges the immeasurable benefits derived from having a diverse student body, including promoting cross-racial understanding, breaking down racial stereotypes, promoting spirited and energetic classroom discussion, and much more. Through its strategic planning process, SCC set goals of increasing recruitment and retention, specifically as related to underrepresented minority (URM) populations.

In total, SCC serves 6,641 students from 99 Kentucky counties and several out-of-state areas. More than 75% of our students receive some type of financial aid and our minority population is 5.92% of overall enrollment (Fall 2016 data).

From its inception, SCC has focused on providing a welcoming atmosphere for people of all races, colors, creeds, backgrounds, and orientations.  The college frequently brings cultural programs to the campus for enrolled students, as well as visiting students and community members. These programs focus on, and give forum to, thoughts about equity and inclusion.

Expanding the minority program offered at SCC, recruiting a more varied student population, and continuing to provide the college and community with programs and activities that foster diversity are of upmost importance.

This diversity plan includes data on SCC as a whole and takes a closer look at specific URM groups on campus. In addition, areas of improvement have been identified through qualitative and quantitative surveys and existing data provided by the SCC OIER. Based on data, the following identified goals can strengthen and improve campus diversity recruitment (opportunity), retention (success) and campus climate (impact). Each strategy is outlined in further detail throughout this document.

  • Opportunity (Recruitment)
    • Expand minority recruitment events
    • Promote minority-focused scholarships
  • Success (Retention)
    • Lessen language barriers on campus
    • Impact retention and graduation rates
  • Impact (Campus Climate)
    • Increase racial and ethnic diversity of SCC faculty and staff

Provide continued oversight for campus diversity initiatives and activities

Diversity Planning Process

The SCC Leadership Team and Diversity Committee identified goals for the College through a lengthy and detailed process.  In 2016, a survey was distributed to all students, staff, and faculty to gauge interest and awareness of diversity-related issues on campus. In 2017, conversational interviews of internal and external stakeholders began.  The SCC Campus Diversity Initiatives Team, the SCC Multicultural Club, and the SCC Diversity Assessment Team began a comprehensive process to survey all entities that have an interest in campus diversity.  The overarching belief that guided the process was that all students can learn and all stakeholders should be a part of the planning process.

To begin, all SCC students, faculty, and staff received an electronic survey that consisted of open-ended questions requiring written responses for each.  Two hundred forty-seven individuals responded to the survey.  The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Research (OIER) staff compiled all responses, and distributed the results to members of the Diversity Assessment Team, the SCC Somerset Multicultural Club, and members of the SCC Leadership Team. 

In addition to the campus survey, the College also engaged in a qualitative analysis process that utilized members of all three groups, as well as others interested in being a part of the process. The groups interviewed students, faculty and staff, members of the President’s Leadership Team, members of the SCC Boards, and members of the various communities.  The College used separate interview instruments for each group.   Interviewers submitted all interview results to the OIER staff for compilation. The contents and recommendations from College stakeholders provided the framework for the development of the SCC Diversity Plan.  (See Attachment 1 for a chart outlining those who conducted consultations and the population groups they interviewed.)

During the survey process, feedback was solicited on a variety of topics, including:

  • Hispanic population
  • General diversity recommendations
  • Cultural diversity
  • Core competencies in place
  • Low-income students
  • Gender issues, and
  • Disabilities

Valuable advice was provided in all areas, with suggestions ranging from removing language barriers in the classroom to providing increased assistance in searching for minority-related scholarships, and hosting workshops to provide a better understanding of gender diversity. (See Attachment 2, found at the end of this document, for a sampling of suggestions by category as taken directly from survey results.)

From the qualitative and quantitative survey results, as well as existing data provided by the SCC OIER, several areas of concentration were identified. SCC will focus on the following areas to strengthen and improve campus diversity recruitment (opportunity), retention (success) and campus climate (impact). Each goal is outlined below with specific strategies and measures.

  • Opportunity (Recruitment)
    • Expand minority recruitment events
    • Promote minority-focused scholarships
  • Success (Retention)
    • Lessen language barriers on campus
    • Impact retention and graduation rates
  • Impact (Campus Climate)
    • Increase racial and ethnic diversity of SCC faculty and staff
    • Provide continued oversight for campus diversity initiatives and activities

Data revealed significant opportunity for growth in the recruitment and enrollment of underrepresented minorities including Black/African-American, Hispanic, and other student categories.

 

Opportunity Goal #1: Expand Minority Recruitment Events

Opportunity Strategy #1: Increase number of Super Someday college recruitment event locations

SCC has participated in Super Sunday, the diversity recruitment event established by KCTCS, since its inception. In 2017, the focus of the event changed, as well as the name, and SCC again collaborated with local minority churches to host two “Super Someday” recruitment events. “Super Someday” events were held locally at one African American church and one Hispanic church in 2017. In the past, these events have proved to be a successful recruitment tool for the College. For example, in 2017, SCC made 120 contacts through Super Someday events.

Measure: Increase the number of Super Someday events from two during the last year to three by May 2018.

Opportunity Goal #2: Promote and Expand Minority Scholarships

During the qualitative survey process, many interviewees indicated concerns with the cost of higher education for underrepresented minority groups. As a recruitment tool, SCC plans to promote existing scholarship opportunities that specifically seek to assist minority students in attending College. SCC recently developed the “Dreamer’s Fund,” a scholarship fund given by an anonymous community member which seeks to assist children of undocumented immigrants in attending College. In addition, the John T. Smith Scholarship, a system-wide scholarship set up to provide financial assistance to people of color, is available to SCC students. These scholarships, as well as national scholarships, are highlighted in a revised Hispanic recruitment book. SCC will utilize the recruitment book to promote these specific scholarships to minority populations.

Opportunity Strategy #2-a: Promote minority scholarships available at SCC by utilizing the SCC Latino recruitment “Viewbook.”

Measure:  Establish two baselines in 2017-2018 academic year: 1. Number of viewbooks distributed; 2. Database of locations viewbooks are dispersed.

Opportunity Strategy #2-b:

Measure:  Increase number of minority scholarships specifically available to SCC students from one to two by specifically soliciting local business owners and managers who hire Hispanic-speaking individuals for scholarship funds. 

Through the implementation of these specific strategies, the SCC Diversity Team will consistently make decisions and implement ideas and events that directly correlate to the overarching strategic plan enrollment goals. These goals include:

  • Increasing enrollment by 1% for Fall 2017 and Fall 2018, and then by 2% for 2019 and 2020. These percentage increases are based on the goal enrollment of 6,620 for Fall 2016.
  • Increasing enrollment of non-traditional students age 25-49 to 2747 by 2020 (2,588 in Fall 2016).

Diversity percentages among faculty and staff at SCC have increased slightly between 2015 and 2016 (table 8); however, this increase has been largely due to decreases in overall employment as the number of URM instructional and management staff has remained flat. In addition to current strategies, more must be done to increase workforce diversity and enhance the cultural climate of the campus. New strategies are indicated below.

SCC focuses on recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse, qualified workforce by targeting minority recruitment through posting open positions in minority and other publications with national and global readership.  Some of the publications used to recruit for faculty and professional staff positions include The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed. Additionally, all regular full-time faculty and staff positions are posted on the SCC and KCTCS website.  Such allows applicants to apply online without having to come to campus, which in turn, expands the College’s reach outside of the region.

Impact Strategies

Due to decreased enrollment over the past few years, there have been limited opportunities for increases in workforce diversity through the recruitment process. Moving forward, efforts will be concentrated on any active searches conducted for faculty and staff positions, including HR review of minority applications through the College’s online applicant-tracking software, candidates obtained from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Conference, and other methods.

Impact Goal #1: Increase racial and ethnic diversity of SCC faculty and staff

Impact Strategy #1-a: KCTCS offers its colleges a Fellows Program to assist with increasing workforce diversity. This program allows us to bypass a lengthy and exhaustive search process in order to make direct hires quickly of qualified candidates for faculty or staff positions, allowing up to two Fellows to be employed at any given time. While the college bears the full expense of salary and fringe, the Fellows Program presents an opportunity to make faster progress toward our faculty diversity goals.

Impact Measure #1-a: URM groups currently represent 3.1 percent of faculty (full-time and part-time) and 5.6 percent of management. SCC will work to increase the overall URM percentage in the faculty category to 7.47% percent and management category to 10.0 percent by 2020. Generally, the college does not expect to fill full-time positions that reasonably can be covered by re-distributing responsibilities among existing personnel. When that is not possible, however, the Fellows Program will be our preferred and first option for filling critical vacated positions that cannot be resolved satisfactorily through utilizing incumbents.

Impact Strategy #1-b: Further increase faculty diversity by recruiting and hiring URM as adjunct faculty. This is a far more realistic strategy than attempting to make our goals solely through full time hires.

Impact Measure #1-b: SCC is unlikely to be able to make very many, if any, new full-time faculty hires until enrollment and budget concerns are remedied. Presently, we are not filling positions that are vacated by resignations and retirement unless absolutely necessary. However, we do have a realistic chance to meet our quantitative goals by seeking out and hiring URM as adjunct instructors. This will allow us to make progress toward stated goals while at the same time developing our own pool of potential and experienced new full-time hires when circumstances do allow. We will conduct an assessment to determine which disciplines can support new part-time faculty and target our search efforts to candidates qualified to teach in those specific areas. As we increase faculty diversity with new adjuncts and communicate our goal with them of mirroring student diversity, we will obtain their assistance and cooperation in locating and attracting additional candidates.     

Impact Strategy #1-c: Further increase faculty diversity by researching and trying out new methods of outreach and recruitment, specifically (but not limited to) part-time faculty.

Impact Measure #1-c: SCC will supplement our current recruitment methods with at least five previously untried methods. These may include different advertising media, leveraging existing relationships with other educational institutions for assistance in finding candidates, and evidence-based research into successful best practices by other organizations. We have recently begun and will continue the practice of posting all open positions through the HERC job board (Higher Education Recruitment Consortium). HERC is a national, nonprofit consortium of over 700 higher education and affiliated employers collaborating to advance equity and excellence across the higher education workforce, which we expect to aid us in reaching talented and diverse job candidates.

Impact Strategy #1-d: Increase preparedness for unexpected opportunities by maintaining a database of credentialed URM faculty candidates with contact information and teaching disciplines. The initial goal will be to list a minimum of 15 candidates.

Impact Measure #1-d: Given the challenge of limited resources in our largely homogeneous service area, such a database will provide much needed agility to respond quickly and efficiently to unexpected vacancies and other opportunities.

Impact Strategy #1-e: Designate gender-neutral restrooms on campus.

Impact Measure #1-e: Designate and provide signage for at least one gender-neutral restroom on all six SCC campuses and centers.

Impact Strategy #1-f: Conduct annual training with all employees to promote the benefits and value of diversity and to increase cultural competency. One such Diversity session was conducted during Fall Convocation of 2016 for all SCC employees present at that event.

Impact Measure #1-f: A minimum of one diversity training session per semester will be made available to all employees beginning in the fall 2017 semester. SCC will strive to reach an 80% participation rate in those sessions.

Impact Goal #2: Provide continued oversight for campus diversity initiatives and activities

Many programs at SCC solicit the assistance of an advisory board in order to stay abreast of industry changes, job openings, skills requirements, fundraising opportunities, and more. Through the creation of a diversity advisory board, SCC hopes to form partnerships with local business and industry, alumni, community leaders, and others, to better serve our students and community.

Impact Strategy #2: Develop SCC Campus Diversity Advisory Board

Impact Measure: Creation of SCC Diversity Advisory Board by the end of the fall 2017 semester.

 

 

The SCC Diversity Action Plan will include the following for its Plan for Assessment:

1st to 2nd Year Retention – URM

  • Increase URM retention rate by at least 1.0 percentage point each year.
    • The office of Cultural Diversity in conjunction with Student Services will review data provided to analyze student successes. Alterations will be made to improve strategies should this become necessary.

Super Someday

  • Response cards will be entered into the Radius program and regularly monitored to determine enrollment into SCC classes.
  • Follow-up will continue until enrollment has been actualized.

Governor’s Minority Student College Preparation Program

  • GMSCPP graduates will be encouraged to participate in local Upward Bound programs and monitoring these students will determine their enrollment in SCC classes.

Recruitment Fairs

  • Response cards will be entered into the Radius program and regularly monitored to determine enrollment in SCC classes.

Workforce Diversity

  • Faculty diversity will increase by 2 FTE for 2018-19, an additional 3 FTE for 2019-20, and another 3 FTE by 2020-21.
  • A minimum of five new outreach and recruitment methods will be added to existing methods.

A database will be constructed and maintained consisting of potential URM faculty with contact information and teaching disciplines containing a minimum of 15 entries by August 1, 2017

Who Should Be Involved?

Student, staff, and faculty VOLUNTEERS from across the campuses and centers, as well as community representatives are needed! Please call or come by the Office for Cultural Diversity if you would like to get involved. We also have a Multicultural Club at both Somerset and Laurel Campues. Join the Multicultural Club to help with cultural diversity intiiatives within the college and community.

Where is the Office of Cultural Diversity Located?

The main office is located in Harold Rogers Student Commons, Office Number 115, Somerset Campus North.

Supplier Diversity Initiative

Still Have Questions?

Contact Elaine Wilson, Director for Cultural Diversity by email at elaine.wilson@kctcs.edu or by phone at (606) 451-6915.