Continued growth offers additional opportunities for diversity

March 13, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Continued growth at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville allows for increased opportunities for diversity.

Dr. Jennifer deCoste, chief diversity officer at UW-Platteville, explained that the student population in Wisconsin is hitting a plateau, based on demographics. “We will see dynamic and interesting growth in diversity on this campus and across all campuses over the next 10 years,” she said.

Angela Udelhofen, assistant chancellor for Admission and Enrollment Services at UW-Platteville, along with deCoste, are working on a long-term enrollment management strategy.

“The demographics of our country are changing and we are an increasingly diverse and pluralistic society,” said UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields. “These changing demographics present an extraordinary challenge and opportunity for institutions of higher learning to fully engage in an inclusive mission. Success in meeting this challenge will ensure that our higher education system is effective in enhancing the development of the next generation of leaders.”

Expanding the number of cohort experiences for students of all types is one goal that deCoste is focused on. “We want to get students who are underrepresented connected to services and connected to one another,” she said. “We will have to be very skillful in how we approach making those connections and how we grow in new directions.”

When it comes to underrepresented students, deCoste says that the campus’ definition of underrepresented is broad and expansive. Areas that report to deCoste and the diversity and inclusion staff include programs that focus on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, first generation students, programs related to socioeconomic status, people with disabilities, international students and employees, veterans and non-traditional students. “The need for cohort experiences is true across all of those categories,” she said.

For instance, veterans services is primed for growth in the coming months and years. Federal government officials expect one million new veterans to take advantage of higher education opportunities in the coming months. “We have to be prepared for that type of growth, which is new to us and new to every other campus,” she said.

From 2004-12 the number of underrepresented students on campus has grown four-fold. That trend is expected to continue.

"For racial and ethnic minority students who are historically underrepresented at predominately white institutions, it is critical that we help them to find a support network and get the access to programs they deserve,” said deCoste.

Enrollment strategies moving forward will involve continuing to recruit students in the Tri-State Initiative areas as well as international students.

The university’s Tri-State Initiative allows for students from Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota to pay in-state tuition, plus a premium. “The TSI is a huge component to campus growth in general, as well as our diverse student growth,” said deCoste. “There is interesting demographic growth in our TSI partner states. In order for us to recruit underrepresented students, we are going to continue to look in those areas, specifically due to demographic shifts in the state of Wisconsin.”

Another piece of the puzzle will be the addition of an intensive English as a Second Language program, which is aimed to begin in the summer of 2014. “We currently have a small population of students who can come from abroad and study here, but they need to be proficient in English to be able to succeed academically,” she said. “This program would open up a huge market for us.”

Contact: Jennifer deCoste, chief diversity officer, (608) 342-6152, decostej@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Dan Wackershauser, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, wackersd@uwplatt.edu

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