Illinois State University's Office of the President shared its latest diversity, equity and inclusion message with the campus community Friday morning.
The email discusses "increased retention numbers for students of color, new faces helping to create an infrastructure for continued DEI efforts on campus and funds available for identity-based registered student organizations."
ISU's Division of Academic Affairs reports an increase in student retention rates for the 2019-2020 academic year and includes "noteworthy improvements among those who identify as members of underrepresented minority groups."
The retention of African American students increased significantly from 66.8% in the 2018-2019 academic year to 80.2% last year. Retention rates also went up for students who identify as Hispanic for their primary ethnicity, increasing from 67.7% to 79.9%.
The retention rate for first-time college students surpassed 82%, making the rate the highest point its been in nine years.
The Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund "supports targeted initiatives in the state of Illinois to enroll and retain underrepresented, first-generation, and high-economic-need students."
Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Success Dr. Amelia Noël-Elkins announced that funds are available to support ISU's identity-based registered student organizations that qualify. The email said that "grants from GEER have already funded loaner technology equipment along with support for spaces for underrepresented students."
The email also announced that two faculty and staff members, assistant professor in the School of Communication Dr. Byron Craig and Media Relations assistant director Rachel Hatch, have joined Interim Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Doris Houston "to advance the University’s goals of diversity, equity and inclusion on campus."
Senior social work major Logan Williams and senior politics and government major Samiat Solebo have served as DEI student outreach leaders under Houston since summer 2020 and will work with Houston, Craig and Hatch to continue these advancements.
The full email can be read below.