Diversity is critical to the mission of NC State and the Park Scholarships program. As staff and faculty engage in the active, sustained efforts required to counter racial injustice and systemic oppression, the program will share periodic updates about the progress on its work to build a stronger and more diverse, equitable, and inclusive program.
RECRUITING AND SELECTION
For the second year, Park Scholars created a Spanish translation of the Park Scholarships brochure, which is sent to endorsing high schools and shared with prospective candidates. Versions of the brochure in Spanish and an accessible EPUB format are available on the Park Scholarships website.
The Park Scholarships application now includes optional fields for candidates to specify their personal pronouns, gender identity, and the pronunciation of their name. Additional changes have been explored to blind names from applications. Because the Park Scholarships application draws materials from various sources that use distinct software and formats, including the Common App and Coalition App, the application for the Park Scholarships program, multiple letters of recommendation, transcripts, and more, the software the program currently uses does not have the capacity to reliably blind names from applications. The Park Scholarships program will transition to a new application software platform next year and staff will continue to investigate the possibility of blinding names on applications in future selection cycles.
Selection Committee training materials are now housed on Moodle, a learning management software used by NC State. The use of Moodle allows Park Scholarships staff to track Selection Committee members’ training progress to ensure completion. Selection Committee training materials include information on NC State’s Bias Impact Report Team (BIRT) process, a multi-step method for evaluating reports of bias and discrimination in which the BIRT assesses each incident and proposes actions. This year, information about the BIRT process has been added to multiple candidate email communications and will be also added to the Park Scholarships website.
Last spring, the program added the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) Groundwater workshop to the freshman curriculum to introduce scholars to the impact of racial inequality in the United States and better prepare them to lead and serve. This year, curriculum changes include the modification of the existing Leadership Academy Motivating Others session from a single-speaker to a panel format, better integrating diverse perspectives and facilitating students’ ability to make connections with Park alumni speakers. The Park Scholarships program is also piloting small group sessions of the NC State Campus Conversations Project with the sophomore and junior classes. The exercise is designed to help scholars learn to communicate across differences. Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, the Park Scholarships program plans to add the Campus Conversations Project as a regular feature of the curriculum.
Since June, the Park Scholarships staff has been working with NC State’s Institutional Strategy and Analysis (ISA) to prepare and administer the program’s first climate survey of current students, similar to the university’s Campus Climate Survey. The survey was administered by email in October and had a 63.9% response rate. ISA managed the process of sending the survey to students and storing the responses; two distinct datasets separating open-ended responses from multiple-choice responses were provided to Park Scholarships staff to protect the anonymity of the respondents. Analysis of the results is underway.
This year, the Park Alumni Society launched committees to focus efforts related to topics including fundraising, career development, social activities, and more. The Civic Engagement Committee led by Margaret-Ellen Christensen ’02 was created as a resource that matches people and skillsets for engagement, including anti-racism activities and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Alumni interested in this committee should reach out to Margaret-Ellen Christensen ’02.
Park Scholars and alumni are encouraged to regularly update the “About Me” section of their SPIFFY profile to facilitate networking among current students and alumni. By specifying keywords, identities, and interests, Park Scholars will be better positioned to discover commonalities and build connections.
STAFF AND FACULTY TRAINING
The Park Scholarships program is not only focused on recruiting a talented and diverse cohort of students, but also on cultivating a talented and diverse staff to support them. To enhance the program’s recruitment process, OIED recruitment and hiring guidelines have been incorporated into Park Scholarships search committee materials, and staff search leads will take the updated Search Committee Training, released in January 2021.
New Park Scholarships staff and Park Faculty Scholars will complete the Inclusive Excellence Certificate program offered by NC State’s Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED). All staff and faculty continue to participate in training related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In February 2022, the program will take part in an external review. A significant portion of the review will be focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Park Scholarships staff meets regularly to discuss, evaluate, and implement changes to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Staff responsible for student programming meet monthly to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and all Park Scholarships staff meet quarterly to discuss updates in their individual areas of responsibility.
These brief updates are not intended to be a comprehensive account of the work the Park Scholarships program is undertaking. As we continue our work to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within our program, we invite you to share your feedback with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information about the Park Scholarships program’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, visit park.ncsu.edu/diversity.