Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.79
Liaison Leslie North
Submission Date March 5, 2020

STARS v2.2

Western Kentucky University
PA-6: Assessing Diversity and Equity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 1.00 Molly Kerby
Associate Professor
Department of Diversity & Community Studies
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution engaged in a structured assessment process during the previous three years to improve diversity, equity and inclusion on campus?:

A brief description of the assessment process and the framework, scorecard(s) and/or tool(s) used:

WKU is required by the Kentucky Council on Post-secondary Education to assess diversity, equity and inclusion efforts every year. Each Kentucky schools must achieve at least a 24 (our of 36) composite score - A total of 18 points for quantitative achieved targets in term of enrollment, retention, and degrees conferred and 18 points for narrative responses. The following are the strategies we measured:

Opportunity: Identification of specific strategies for recruitment and enrollment of underrepresented minoritized students along with the responsible partners and specific strategies are charted below as well as action that will be taken, and those responsible. The four (4) strategies to enhance opportunity are:
• Strategy 1: Actively pursue underrepresented minoritized (URM) high school juniors and seniors by cultivating relationships with families, target high schools, churches, and community agencies
• Strategy 2: Implement a web of recruiting through Affinity Groups

Success: To support and achieve student success, the following strategies are proposed:
• Strategy 1: Implement a pre-enrollment orientation program
• Strategy 2: Create targeted Living-Learning Communities and Special Living Options

Impact: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, are designed to influence organizational change. These strategies are:
• Strategy 1: Formalize mechanisms to infuse cultural competency within all aspects of the institution

Does the assessment process address campus climate by engaging stakeholders to assess the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of employees and students, including the experiences of underrepresented groups?:

Does the assessment process address student outcomes related to diversity, equity and success?:

Does the assessment process address employee outcomes related to diversity and equity?:

A brief description of the most recent assessment findings and how the results are used in shaping policy, programs, and initiatives:

The following are results of the five strategic units of measure for 2018-19.

Strategy 1: Actively pursue underrepresented minoritized (URM) high school juniors and seniors by cultivating relationships with families, target high schools, and community agencies.

The recruitment effort in June of 2019 aimed at URM students (n = 933) who had not yet registered for an orientation, resulted in the following: Seventy-seven (77) students registered for a Topper Orientation Program (TOP) and were all, subsequently, enrolled for the fall 2019 semester (yield rate 77/933 or 8.25%). The recruitment information sent the 3,861 URM students with summer or fall 2019 entry terms who were inquiries but had not applied to WKU as of June 2019, also were targeted with digital ads. Of the URM students receiving both the postcards and digital ads, four (4) students applied, were admitted, and enrolled; a yield rate too low to report. Of the 14 students who participated in the Multicultural Preview Day and received the free application waiver, 7 enrolled in fall 2019 (50%). *Note: Data for fall 2019 enrollment numbers was included because recruitment efforts actually occurred within the 2018-19 reporting parameters.

The 8.25% yield rate for URM recruitment materials and the lack of attendance at the Multicultural Preview Day were most likely due to late notice; many students has already enrolled in other schools. While the numbers are low in term of students who enrolled at WKU in fall 2019, there were some positive outcomes. Since the Multicultural Preview Day resulted in a 50% enrollment, this, perhaps, is something WKU should explore on an on-going bases with substantial monetary investment.

Data regarding how students hear about WKU or why they chose to attend is not collected on the admissions application. Without that data, it is hard to know if recruitment through emails, postcards, social media, etc. are effective recruitment tools.

What lessons were learned regarding this strategy and what are your next steps?
It is clear that communication and contact targeted at URM students, in retrospect (and after discussions with Public Affairs), was distributed too late and that this type of marketing effort would have greater potential for high impact if moved earlier in the recruitment cycle. As a result, WKU will begin sending communication to fall 2020 URM prospects no later than February 2020. It is also clear that early intervention programs, before the junior and senior year, can be valuable in increasing enrollment. Research shows that reaching out to students as early as middle and secondary school can support and strengthen the education of minority students at K-12 levels and reinforce their interest in higher education (*Bush, 2019). Future strategies aimed at self-efficacy for high school students will be considered because under-preparedness is mediated by a student’s belief or expectations about his/her/their capacity to accomplish certain tasks successfully. For example, students who are placed in general high school tracks are not being provided opportunities that foster self-efficacy. The same is true for access to dual-credit courses. WKU’s DRO reaching out earlier to URM students can increase their interest in high school college preparation programs, so students believe they are academically prepared early on and feel more comfortable discussing the possibility of attending college. WKU has not realized the full potential of working with community organization to recruit URM and low-income students and will focus attention in that area during the next recruitment cycle as well. In addition, data concerning the efficacy of emails, postcards, and other forms of marketing should be collected.

In terms of “next steps,” WKU began working on a new scholarship structure in 2018-19 that would benefit URM and low-income students. Underrepresented minority students with a minimum 2.5 unweighted GPA qualify for a Targeted Award. The follow will be effective for incoming WKU freshmen as early as the beginning of fall 2020:
• WKU removed the ACT requirement from almost all merit-based and targeted academic scholarships.
• WKU increased the minimum merit scholarship award by $1,000 to $2,500.
• WKU reduced the minimum GPA requirement from 3.3 to 3.0.
• WKU created additional scholarship opportunities for underrepresented minority students through an expansion of the Cornelius A. Martin Scholarship.

The Cornelius A. Martin Scholarship is awarded to URM students as follows:
• Students who have a 2.5 up to 2.9 unweighted GPA qualify for $2,000 per academic year.
• Students who have a 3.0 or greater unweighted GPA qualify for $3,000 per academic year.

*Bush, A. A. (2019). Same Destination, Different Journey: Towards a Conceptual Framework Exploring URM Students’ Experiences Navigating Pharmacy School. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe7544

Strategy 2: Implement a web of recruiting through Affinity Groups.

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate support for WKU students is financial support. In 2018-19, there were 86,912 paid members of the WKU Alumni Association: Caucasian/European-American, n = 77,247; Black/African-American, n = 5,565; Asian/Asian-American, n = 1,628; Hispanic/Latino-American, n = 1,078; Other Specified, n = 1,264; American Indian/Alaskan Native, n = 184; Declined to State, n = 946. Gifts that specifically benefitted URM, low-income, and LGBTQ+ students included the following:
• Hilltopper Organization for Latin American Students Collaborative Endowment, $1086.74
• Hope Fund (URM/Low-income), $240
• Intercultural Student Engagement Center, $2,972
• Minority Teachers Education Program, $2,820
• The Pride Center Fund, $1,903
• Society of African American Alumni, $622
• Society of African American Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, $435
• Cynthia & George Nichols III Fund for Diversity Programming, $100,000
• Master of Social Work Diversity Scholarship Fund, $440
• Total Alumni Association diversity funding, $110,518.74

Although not directly associated with the Alumni Association, the WKU Sisterhood, formed to raise and distribute funding to campus projects, awarded $5,000 to the Xposure High School Journalism Workshop that assists with diversity recruitment. The Sisterhood also awarded grants of $30,000 to the GFCB Professional Clothes Closet to assist URM and low-income students with professional wardrobes, and $14,000 to the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Women’s Right to Vote programming. The WKU Sisterhood, formed by former WKU “first-lady” Julie Ransdell, is a group of women with shared values, who financially collaborate to advance the mission of WKU. Their funding continues to support the efforts of faculty, staff, and student who are primarily interested in creating project to help promote equity. Members, many of whom are WKU graduates, pool their financial gifts and award funds to a limited number of university designations to maximize the impact of their philanthropy.

In addition to monetary help, the alumni diversity groups and chapters offer other means of support as well. Although there are no direct data to report from Topper Pride events because the group wasn’t formed until summer 2019, plans for fall 2019 are to explore the needs of current LGBTQ+ students and design appropriate support programs for the upcoming year. For example, the goals of WKU’s Topper Pride Alumni Chapter [that support current students] are to:
• Engage LGBTQ alumni in campus programs that support students, faculty and staff
• Empower networking between LGBTQ alumni and students for career networking and mentoring opportunities
• Promote and support the educational, professional and social interests of LGBTQ [students as well as] alumni of WKU
• Recognize the accomplishments and achievements of LGBTQ alumni and allies
• Organize fundraising events and activities that support the WKU Pride Center or other LGBTQ programs, services, or scholarships at WKU

What lessons were learned regarding this strategy and what are your next steps?
One lessoned learned about alumni affinity groups this past year is that most of them do not collect any type of data from their events. It would be beneficial to know how many current students are reached by mentoring programs, social events, and fundraisers, including when/where these events occur. Steps are under way to create reporting tools for all groups and chapters to use. It is also imperative that the WKU Alumni Association do a better job of recruiting diverse members who can, in turn, help support WKU students who are URM, low-income, and LGBTQ+. Of the 77,247 members, only 9,665 identify as nonwhite and there is no information collected about those who identify as LGBTQ+.

The Alumni Association has been recruited to be a part of WKU’s new Strategic Enrollment plan led by Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL). In 2018-19, WKU hired RNL, a consultant group and leader in providing strategic enrollment management services, to assist in developing an enrollment plan focused on recruitment, marketing, and financial aid services. In addition to academic and student affairs teams, RNL is also working with DEI teams that include the Alumni Association. Work began in spring of 2019 and will be completed in May 2020. It is hoped that our next steps, in terms of alumni relations, will be outlined in that final report and will helps guide us in fostering new, effective practices.

While the efforts of WKU alumni affinity groups raised over $110,000 in 2018-19, there are many resources left untapped. The WKU Alumni Association’s Board of Directors has committed to increasing the number of URM members during the 2019-2020 academic year and have begun to cast a wider net with their renewed recruitment efforts.

Strategy 3: Implement a pre-enrollment orientation program.
TRiO -
Educational Talent Search 1 served 821 students (143 Seniors): 68.1% of the students were First Generation and Low Income individuals, 14.0% Underrepresented Minority Students; 86 (60.1%) enrolled in an institution of higher education; 13 (15.1%) enrolled at WKU.

Educational Talent Search 2 served 500 students (88 Seniors); 70.0% of the students were First Generation and Low Income individuals; 46.8% Underrepresented Minority Students; 71 (85.2%) enrolled in an institution of higher education; 31 (43.7%) enrolled at WKU.

Educational Talent Search 3 serves 500 students (100 Seniors): 67.6% of the students were First Generation and Low Income individuals; 13.2% Underrepresented Minority Students (26.2 % unknown ethnicity); 71 (71.0%)enrolled in an institution of higher education; 22 (31.0%) enrolled at WKU.

Upward Bound served 86 students (20 Seniors ): 67.4% of the students were First Generation and Low Income individuals; 23.3% Underrepresented Minority Students; 12 (60.0%) enrolled in an institution of higher education; 2 (10.0%) enrolled at WKU.

From this data, it is apparent that, currently, WKU TRiO is moderately successful in recruiting students for WKU, but highly effective in recruiting students for higher education in general. It is also worth noting the data indicated that developing programs targeting first-generation and low-income students is imperative and more should be done to target these students at recruitment events.
What lessons were learned regarding this strategy and what are your next steps?
Strengthening the relationship between the Office of Admission and WKU TRiO helped identify gaps in recruiting URM and low-income students. Although TRiO programs are federally funded at do not specifically target or show preference for one university over another, providing WKU representatives with information about the unique programs available on our campus (especially for low-income and first-generation) can help students in making informed choices about which institution to attend.

In terms of next steps, WKU TRiO has laid the ground work to create a first-generation student initiative, as outlined in the WKI DEI Plan called the “I Am First”Campaign. The program will be ready for implementation in early spring 2020. The “I Am First” Campaign is aimed at students, pre-enrollment, who are first generation and need assistance with socialization and expectation setting prior to arrival on campus. The campaign also connects faculty and staff who were first generation with students who are the “first 2 go” for the purpose of mentorship. The new “I Am First” Campaign is fully supported by WKU TRiO. Other “next steps” are outlined in the Opportunity strategy, “Actively pursue underrepresented minoritized (URM) high school juniors and seniors by cultivating relationships with families, target high schools, and community agencies.”

Strategy 4: Create targeted Living-Learning Communities and Special Living Options.
Results -
General enrollment data: In Fall 2018, the total WKU enrollment for first-time, first year (FTFY) (full-time baccalaureate only) was 2,691 (nonURM, N = 2,251; URM, N = 440). The total enrollment for all FTFY students, including part-time, was 2,933 (nonURM, N = 2361; URM, N = 572). The fall 2018 to spring 2019 persistence rate for all FTFY WKU students was 86.8% (88.6%, full-time baccalaureate only) and the fall 2018 – fall 2019 rate was 70.3% (72.9%, full-time baccalaureate only).

ISEC Academy Students: Fall 2018 marked the second cohort of ISEC Academy students. Of the URM’s enrolled at WKU in Fall 2018 (N = 572), 63 participated in ISEC Academy’s LLC (full-time baccalaureate, n = 46; part-time, n = 17). The first semester persistence rate (fall 2018 to spring 2019) for full-time baccalaureate ISEC Academy students was 93.5% and the fall 2018 to fall 2019 persistence rate was 82.6%. For all ISEC Academy students (including part-time), the first semester persistence rate (fall 2018 to spring 2019) was 90.5% and the fall 2018 to fall 2019 persistence rate was 71.4%. For comparison, the first semester persistence rate (fall 2018 to spring 2019) for full-time baccalaureate non-ISEC Academy URM students was 84.9% and the fall 2018 to fall 2019 persistence rate was 56.9%. For all non-ISEC Academy URM students (including part-time), the first semester persistence rate (fall 2018 to spring 2019) was 80.6% and the fall 2018 to fall 2019 persistence rate was 53.4%.

Stonewall Suites LLC:
The Stonewall Suites LLC was new in fall 2018. Nine students enrolled in Stonewall Suites LLC in fall 2018 (full-time baccalaureate, n = 8; part-time, n = 1). The first semester persistence rate (fall 2018 to spring 2019) for full-time baccalaureate Stonewall Suite LLC students was 88.6% and the fall 2018 to fall 2019 persistence rate was 72.9%. For all Stonewall Suites LLC students (including part-time), the first semester persistence rate (fall 2018 to spring 2019) was 86.8% and the fall 2018 to fall 2019 persistence rate was 70.3%. In fall 2019, 12 more students were added to this cohort (full-time baccalaureate, n = 11; part-time, n = 1). There were 21 students in fall 2019 cohort, which included the nine students from 2018-19 who persisted.

Data indicated that all students in the ISEC Academy LLC are retained at greater rate than URM students who do not participate in both fall to spring and fall to fall (90% and 84.9% vs. 71.4% and. 53.4%, respectively). Additionally, ISEC Academy students persist at a higher rate than all WKU students both fall to spring and fall to fall (90% and. 84.9% vs. 88.6% and 70.3%, respectively). The rate for Stonewall Suites LLC were lower than ISEC Academy Students but on par with fall to spring and fall to fall persistence in general enrollment (86.8% and 70.3%, respectively). Since there were so few students in the Stonewall cohort, changes did not show up in the data.

What lessons were learned regarding this strategy and what are your next steps?
Data from the ISEC academy indicate that participation in these LLCs has a significant impact on the persistence of URM students. Since this LLC has a positive impact on retention, exploring the creation of similar LLCs aimed at URM, low-income, and LGBTQ+ students might prove to impact the overall persistence rate at WKU. While the Stonewall Suite LLC did not show significance in terms of fall to spring and fall to fall of LGBTQ+ students, it should be noted that a) LGBTQ+ are generally vulnerable and have persistence issues, b) the new LLC had so few students that data were not affected by changes in persistence rates, and c) WKU does not collect data on gender/sexual identity of incoming students, so data comparison of LGBTQ+ students who were not in the Stonewall Suites LLC was not possible. Measure will be taken to begin collecting information on LGBTQ+ students to the best of our ability. Part of WKU’s Strategic Plan is to raise the Campus Pride index score to the maximum score of FIVE (5) by 2027/28. As a last note, WKU’s DEI Committee is exploring a Campus Climate/Cultural Competence survey tool.

Strategy 5: Formalize mechanisms to infuse cultural competency within all aspects of the institution

While there are no direct-measures data, indirect survey data was collected from the two unconscious bias training sessions. In general, faculty who participated in the consultant-led trainings said the most valuable part of the training were the specific tools they were given to mitigate these biases during a recruitment process. While several commented that they didn’t think they needed three to four hours to cover unconscious biases, they were surprised how quickly the time went; most felt they could have spent more time on the topic. Although it was not possible to establish correlations between trainings and recruitment of URM faculty at this point (too few hires), the process and self-reported data uncovered a need for these workshops on multiple levels. Responses were as follows in spring 2018 (n = 21):
• “As a participant I found the group discussions beneficial” (95% agree or strongly agree)
• “As a participant I anticipate using what I learned/experienced in my work with this committee” (90% agree or strongly agree, 5% neutral)
• “The session content was relevant to our charge on this committee” (95% agree or strongly agree)
• “The facilitator, Emily Duncan, demonstrated expertise in the subject matter” (95% agree or strongly agree)
• “Overall I felt this session would be beneficial for other search committees” ( 95% agree or strongly agree; within 95%, 63% strongly agree)

Responses in fall 2018 (n = 30)
• "As a participant I anticipate using what I learned/experienced in my work with this committee" (96% agree; 1 disagree)
• "The session content was relevant to our charge on this committee" (100% agree)
• "Emily Duncan demonstrated expertise in the subject matter" and "Emily Duncan fostered a comfortable learning environment" (100% agree)
• "Overall I felt this session would be beneficial for other search committees." (92% agree; 2% neutral)

Through open-ended responses at both sessions (see attached), it became apparent that retention rates of URM faculty and staff should also be considered in trainings and open dialogues aimed at shifting the climate and culture of the university are imperative.

Fifty seven (57) people signed up for the book club – 27 staff and 30 faculty from 39 units on campus. The book club met over the course of three Friday afternoons. Forty seven (47) people attended the first session and 22 attended the second meeting. At the conclusion of the second meeting, participants indicated they would like one more session, so a third session was added; 13 attended that last discussion. Although attendance decreased due to other commitments, no one indicated they lost interest or had an adverse reaction to the readings and discussion. Again, there were no direct measures of assessment but qualitative, self-reported data were collected from the participants. All but one of the respondents (n = 18) indicated they would change some aspect on their teaching or professional behavior based on the book club and discussion
What lessons were learned regarding this strategy and what are your next steps?
WKU recognizes diverse faculty and staff are key to the recruitment and retention of students. It is imperative that hiring practices, unconscious bias trainings/conversations, and quality continuous education and improvement programs are geared toward campus diversity, equity, and inclusion. The new Provost/Vice-President of Academic Affairs is committed to the efforts underway and is in the process of examining the budget for ways to dramatically increase funding for projects and data collection that support DEI.

While massive cuts to staff were unavoidable, unconscious biases can lead to poor working conditions and the desire of employees to seek jobs elsewhere. The unconscious bias trainings and the book club served as inaugural attempts to open campus-wide discussions and dialogue about difference. Human resources and academic affairs are also devoting time, energy, and funding to explore resources obtained through our membership with HERC (Higher Education Recruitment Consortium), which provides excellent micro-learning topics on diversity hiring best practices. WKU’s newly formed university DEI Workgoup has begun discussions within colleges/units on diversity hiring best practices and training. In short, while it might take some time to collect direct-measure data on the effectiveness of unconscious bias training, feedback from participants in these workshops has shown this to be an effective strategy in several ways: a) reinforced the need to continue these training to collect longitudinal data; b) offered the prospect of using the workshops for cultural competence among faculty and staff; c) demonstrated a need for continued funding and allocation of new monies for these efforts; and d) supported our efforts in creating equity in the classroom and curriculum.

In addition to offering workshops to hiring committees, a plan is being developed for 2020-2021 to deliver online trainings for all faculty and staff. This is in response to the WKU DEI Plan to “create an online training module for faculty and staff to convey institutional expectations and values related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” While training search committees is crucial, all employees must be aware of internal biases. “Next steps” include designated diversity officers in each college/unit who will act as liaisons to the university DEI Workgroup as well as advocates for hiring committees and unconscious bias trainings.

While indirect measures and self-reported data weave a story, creating an assessment plan for this strategy is essential. During 2020, there will be a concerted effort to create a database for reporting assessments and clearinghouse for DEI related projects. It also appears more book clubs and deliberative dialogues are welcomed, so plans are underway to have variable meeting times using different methodologies (number of meetings, types of readings, structured conversations, etc.). The last plan for the next year is to exam tenure and promotion guidelines, employee evaluations, and internal promotion practices for consistency in terms of URM employees. We will also investigate processes for exit and “staying” interviews. “Staying” interviews are designed to gather information from employees while they are still employed, so problems can be addressed before they make the decision to leave.

Are the results of the most recent structured diversity and equity assessment shared with the campus community?:

A brief description of how the assessment results are shared with the campus community:

The results of the assessment are shared with the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion committee as well as all of the unit committees. Each college and unit under the Vice=President for Student affairs has a DEI committee and a unit diversity officer. Those committees share as they see fit.

Are the results (or a summary of the results) of the most recent structured diversity and equity assessment publicly posted?:

The diversity and equity assessment report or summary (upload):
Website URL where the diversity and equity assessment report or summary is publicly posted:

Website URL where information about the institution’s diversity and equity assessment efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.