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The Teagle Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to Lafayette, Bucknell University, and Dickinson College for a cooperative project aimed at enhancing diversity and diversity education. The funds will be used to improve students’ academic and co-curricular experiences on campus.

The three schools are among a group of colleges and universities invited by Teagle to submit collaborative proposals to address educational issues using previously collected institutional data. They chose to focus on diversity, a shared priority for each.

The institutions will focus on their own topics but meet periodically as a group to share resources, expertise, and outcomes.  The funding period begins in April and ends August 2013.

Lafayette will apply the Teagle funding to incorporating diversity throughout the curriculum as well as training a team of student leaders to serve as peer educators about multiculturalism and social justice.

“The grant will enable Lafayette to undertake initiatives to improve student learning regarding issues of identity and difference and to increase students’ engagement in critical conversations about social justice,” said Wendy L. Hill, provost and dean of the faculty.

The curricular project will address Lafayette’s commitment to improving student learning regarding issues of identity and difference through an infusion model aimed at improving the robustness of diversity in the curriculum.  Participating faculty will infuse diversity by creating new courses, new components to existing courses, or new pedagogies for traditional courses.

The Office of Intercultural Development will incorporate essential elements of multicultural competency training (MCT) into a new campus-wide multicultural training program.  Lafayette offers MCT to prepare student leaders, including orientation leaders, peer athlete mentors, international student advisers, and resident advisers, to successfully perform their duties and to promote an inclusive campus environment. The new project will prepare a select group of campus leaders to facilitate conversations and workshops for their peers in order to increase the multicultural competence and social justice awareness of the broader student body.

“We believe that true diversity – social and intellectual pluralism – enriches the educational possibilities by a measure greater than any other means,” said Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss. “Thinking of diversity in its broadest sense, as a core value, we are striving to create an environment that is nourishing of the diversity of this country and stimulating to the intellectual climate we are trying to create at Lafayette. We are pleased and grateful to have the support of the Teagle Foundation.”

All three schools have already taken steps to increase diversity on their respective campuses. Each partners with the Posse Foundation, a national college-access and leadership program that identifies, recruits, and trains outstanding young leaders from public schools in urban areas.

With a partnership that began in 2002, Lafayette hosts groups of Posse Foundation scholars from both New York and Washington, D.C. Eight-two Posse scholars from New York and Washington, D.C. are enrolled at Lafayette and 65 have graduated.

The College also recently began working with the Schuler Scholar Foundation, a privately funded program that helps academically gifted students at inner-city high schools outside Chicago, and with the Noble Street Charter School network of schools in downtown Chicago. In addition, Lafayette is developing a partnership with Philadelphia Futures to enroll more disadvantaged students from that city.

In 2010, Lafayette launched Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S-STEM), which recruits high-performing students from populations underrepresented in the fields of engineering and computer science and provides them with opportunities and mentoring to develop as future leaders in STEM.

Three approaches, one goal

Bucknell will use its portion of the grant to focus on curricular issues. Under the recently revised core curriculum, students are required to complete more coursework on diversity in the United States and across the globe. Bucknell will conduct curriculum-based programs to help improve student learning about diversity in selected courses. It will also address ways to improve diversity-learning opportunities in its foundation seminars, residential colleges, and service-learning programs.

“Bucknell is deeply committed to diversity in all forms, and the Teagle grant will help us further our efforts to enrich our academic program and campus with ideas and people from all backgrounds,” said Bucknell President John Bravman. “We are thankful for the foundation’s support, and pleased to partner with other highly selective liberal arts schools to explore ways we can better prepare our students to succeed in a multicultural world.”

In addition to Posse, Bucknell’s diversity initiatives include the Community College Scholars Program, which began in 2006 with a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the Engineering Success Alliance, a new program that provides first-year engineering students from underfunded high schools with math tutoring.

Dickinson will apply its Teagle funding to academic and curricular support as well as leadership development for male students of color. This leverages the strengths of its Posse Foundation support model; its Summer Institute for International Students program, which helps foreign students adapt to a liberal arts learning environment and gain written and verbal proficiency; and a potential curricular revision that would focus on diversity in the United States.

“We look forward to collaborating with our counterparts at Bucknell and Lafayette in this important project to enhance diversity and diversity education on our campuses,” said Dickinson President William G. Durden.  “We share the Teagle Foundation’s commitment in helping economically disadvantaged young people gain admission to college and succeed inside and outside the classroom.”

In addition to participation in the New York and Los Angeles Posse Foundation programs, Dickinson is involved in Philadelphia Futures and recently implemented the Dickinson College Community College Partnership Program with honors programs in two-year schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

A collaborative effort

As part of the collaboration, each campus will bring in outside experts who can help facilitate the implementation of the colleges’ ideas and new practices with the goal of improved student learning. All three institutions will have the opportunity to participate in these sessions. As projects develop on each campus, funding will be available for communities of faculty and staff with common interests to convene and discuss issues and ideas.

Finally, workshops will be held to help implement programs. Program outcomes will be shared with the higher-education community at the conclusion of the project.

The Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, mobilizing the intellectual and financial resources that are necessary if today’s students are to have access to a challenging and transformative liberal education. The foundation’s commitment to such education includes its grant-making to institutions of higher education across the country, its long-established scholarship program for the children of employees of ExxonMobil, and its work helping economically disadvantaged young people in New York City – where the foundation is based – gain admission to college and succeed once there.

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