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New initiative seeks to create a welcoming campus

April 5, 2016

Talking Wall has become an inviting part of the campus.

Public art installations like Talking Wall near the Gateway Garage are part of campus beautification efforts that help make IUPUI's physical spaces more inviting. | LIZ KAYE / IU COMMUNICATIONS

IUPUI has launched an initiative to make the campus more welcoming for students, faculty, staff, community members and alumni.

The Welcoming Campus Initiative represents a collective project to transform IUPUI, making it a destination that prioritizes student success, encourages and supports faculty and staff, embraces visitors, and aims toward engagement at the highest levels, all in a vibrant and stimulating environment.

"We want to strengthen the sense of community at IUPUI so that students, faculty, staff, alumni and other visitors feel both welcomed and inspired. The energy and excitement with which people have responded to the initiative give me confidence in our success," said Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar.

While the meaning of a welcoming campus will be developed in the coming months, the concept generally includes these elements:

  • A place where everyone is included and treated with dignity, respect, civility and professionalism.
  • A safe space, physically and intellectually, where individuality and ideas can be freely and openly expressed.
  • A culture where differences are sought, accepted and valued.
  • A campus where engagement and interaction at the highest levels -- for students, faculty and staff -- are both possible and encouraged.
  • An environment that is aesthetically pleasing and inspiring, where there is ease of accessing, navigating and interacting with the campus by all.

The Welcoming Campus Initiative has been designated the Chancellor's Choice for this year's Campus Campaign. In support of the initiative, the campus has matching funds up to $500,000 for gifts directed to the Welcoming Campus Initiative, and President Michael A. McRobbie has committed up to $500,000 in additional university matching funds. The double match will actually triple the impact of faculty, staff and retiree gifts to the Campus Campaign.

Five task forces have been formed under the Welcoming Campus Initiative to identify current strengths, generate ideas for improvement, and develop specific recommendations, including how various units, offices, councils and committees can enhance their individual and collective efforts toward helping IUPUI be a more welcoming campus.

One task force will focus on students, with the others focusing on faculty and staff, cultural climate and multicultural competence, alumni and community members, and the physical environment of the campus.

An inclusive steering committee and an executive committee will provide connections between and among groups and will offer overall direction, leadership and coordination.

Members of all task forces will meet together in early May to share emerging recommendations and observations. Each task force will submit a preliminary written report by May 31, and work on the initial state of the initiative will continue in the 2016-17 academic year, with opportunities for feedback provided to the IUPUI community.

"At IUPUI, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to be a more welcoming campus, and this is significant for several reasons," said Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chair of the Welcoming Campus Initiative executive committee. "First, and perhaps most important, diversity and inclusion are core values for IUPUI, and we want all to experience IUPUI as a welcoming campus."

Five principal objectives will guide the initiative:

  • Seek input on what it means for IUPUI to be a truly welcoming campus for students, faculty and staff, alumni, and community members and in our physical environment.
  • Identify how peer and aspirant institutions foster welcoming campus environments and investigate how to adapt or replicate such practices at IUPUI.
  • Determine what is presently driving the campus toward -- and what is holding it back from -- being a more welcoming campus.
  • Develop preliminary recommendations for how IUPUI can become a more welcoming campus, including indicators to be used to gauge progress and effectiveness.
  • Use the recommendations to improve campus culture, both centrally and throughout IUPUI, in order to be a welcoming campus.

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