Committee on Diversity & Inclusion

Strategic Plan Progress Report April 2021

Committee Name: Committee on Diversity & Inclusion

Committee Members:  Amanda Ngola, Lynette Studer, Alejandra Ros Pilarz, Ellen Smith, Cindy Waldeck, Aaron Raasch, Sheri Meland, Tawandra Rowell-Cunsolo, HeeJin Kim & Alice Caceres-Turcios

Strategic Plan Goal 1: Increase the diversity of our students, (staff, faculty, and other governing bodies.)

Objective: Plan and host a Visit Day for prospective/admitted MSW students with a focus on students of color and other historically underrepresented students. The day could potentially include having students connect with community members, faculty, other students; attending a class; a luncheon or other meal; social activity, etc. The purpose is to increase enrollment and matriculation.

Progress on goal since February 2021

Our first annual MSW Virtual Visit Day took place on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021. We hosted 4 panels, including a Welcome Address from Interim Director Kristi Slack who was introduced by Associate Director of Field Education and Co-Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, Amanda Ngola. The second panel focuses on Funding and Financial Aid opportunities and was moderated by Recruitment and Awards Specialist Cindy Waldeck, and featured staff from the Office of Financial Aid, The Graduate School, UW-Madison Library, as well as Alice Egan representing the Title IV-E program, and Amanda Ngola representing the Project LEADSS program. The final daytime panel was moderated by Prof. Tawandra L. Rowell-Cunsolo on the topic of “Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School” and featured panelists from University Health Services, the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, the Multicultural Student Center, and the McBurney Disability Resource Center. Finally, we hosted a student panel moderated by Part-Time MSW student Sheri Meland and featured students from both the Full-Time and Part-Time MSW programs.

All admitted Full-Time and Part-Time MSW students were invited to the Virtual Visit day via email, and Full-Time students received additional information in their admission letter with a link to the flyer and registration page. We discussed adding this to the Part-Time letter, but due to additional information included, it would have added an additional page to the letter for a small number of Part-Time applicants who are admitted by the event date.

Registration and Attendance

Of the 179 Full-Time and 42 Part-Time admitted students (Including 38 applicants who applied for the Full-Time and were offered admission to the Part-Time program, 125 admitted students registered for the visit day (56.5% of admitted students). Of those admitted students who registered for the visit day, 87 admitted students attended one or more of the daytime panels (39.3% of the total admitted students, and 69.6% of those who registered for the visit day).

41 Admitted students attended all 3 daytime sessions, 70 students attended the Welcome Address and 70 attended the Financial Aid Panel, and 58 students attended the Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School panel. Each of the daytime panels were posted privately on YouTube for admitted students unable to attend the Visit Day live, and the Welcome Address received an additional 4 views, the Financial Aid Panel received an additional 22 views, and the Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School Panel received an additional 8 views.

In addition to the panels, we provided links to asynchronous materials including interactive campus maps, links to videos from the Field Education Office, links to school social media accounts, local news websites and best of lists, and a Title IV-E current student panel which received 53 views on YouTube from Visit Day attendees.

We also hosted a student panel that intentionally included only current or admitted students, no faculty or staff. This was decided in order to encourage a safe and open environment to allow admitted students to ask questions and current students to answer honestly. 50 admitted students attended the current student panel, 1 current student served as a moderator, and 4 current students served as panelists.

Full-Time MSW Program

The significant majority (85%) of the visit day attendees were from the Full-Time MSW program. 179 Full-Time MSW students were admitted into the program, and 107 students or 59.7% of admitted students registered for the visit day. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students made up 51 or 28.4% of admitted Full-Time MSW students. 25 of the 51 admitted BIPOC students or 49% registered for the Visit Day. Of the registered BIPOC students, 18 or 72% of registered students attended the visit day. 16 of the 18 or 88.8% of BIPOC students admitted to the Full-Time MSW program who attended the MSW Virtual Visit Day ultimately accepted their offer of admission. This compares to 85.4% of white students who were admitted to the Full-Time MSW and accepted their offer of admission and also attended the virtual visit day. Overall, 86.3% of Full-Time MSW students who attended the MSW Virtual Visit Day ultimately accepted their offer of admission.

Part-Time MSW Program

Although a much small number of Part-Time MSW students attended the Virtual Visit Day, due to the timing of the Visit Day in relation to PTP rolling admissions and the response deadline, 84.6% or 11 of the 13 Part-Time MSW students who attended the visit day accepted their offer of admission. 18 Admitted Part-Time MSW students initially registered, therefore 72.2% of Part-Time MSW students who registered actually attended the MSW Virtual Visit Day. 30.9% of admitted Part-Time MSW students attended the Virtual Visit Day, and of the 13 who attended, 12 of the admitted students were Full-Time MSW applicants who were offered admission to the Part-Time MSW program.


14 MSW Visit Day Attendees completed a feedback survey that was distributed to all attendees. All surveyed attendees rated the visited day “Very Good” or “Excellent”. Students were asked what they liked about the visit day, and one student shared “I really enjoyed the timing of the event and hearing things before I have to make my final decision on what school to attend. I truly appreciated the varied groups of people that spoke as well.”. Another student shared, “I appreciated the depth of information, as well as the easy way to communicate questions. I also liked the depth of resources on the panels.”.

A common theme of what admitted students disliked about the event or felt were missing was around Field Education. Many students shared that they wished they had more of an opportunity to learn about field education. Other admitted students wished there had been more opportunities to engage with current students. One students shared:“ I wish there was more ability to chat with students – maybe in breakout rooms so you could ask more questions.”

Future Visit Days.

Through the survey feedback, conversations with admitted students, and feedback provided during the student panel, it is clear that next year we need to incorporate Field Education as part of the visit day. When we looked at the initial registration which included a ranked list of topics, learning more about Field Education consistently came up as a priority for admitted students. Additionally, admitted students expressed a desire for further engagement with current students. Both of these areas could provide an opportunity to engage and partner with the Field Education Office and the Social Work Student Union and other student groups in the School of Social Work to create a visit day that meets the needs and interests of our admitted students.