Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

Chair/Co-chairs: Amanda Ngola & Lynette Studer 

Fall 2021 Committee Members: Committee or Group: Ellen Smith, Lara Gerassi, Alejandra Ros Pilarz, Cindy Waldeck, Aaron Raasch, Yoona Kim, Sheri Meland & Cleo Le  

2021-22 (December) Report Out 

3 Goal Areas 

#1 Increase the diversity of our students, staff, faculty, and other governing bodies is a priority for our committee.  

Objective(s): Hold the 2nd annual MSW Visit day for admitted students. If it is safe to, we also plan to hold an in-person visit day for scholarship recipients. 

Current & Future Action Steps/Timeframes: 

  • Virtual visit day will be held on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 9th, 2022. We are meeting every other week to plan the visit, have a rough schedule, and will be working on determining and inviting speakers for the event in December. Additionally, we received approval of funding for the In-Person visit day on Friday, April 8th, 2022, depending on the state of the pandemic. 

#2 Improve a sense of inclusion for students, faculty, and staff. 

Objective(s): In order to contribute to a positive and inclusive school climate, the CoDI will offer free Community read books to all students, staff, and faculty. We will offer six monthly discussion sessions (in-person and via zoom) to facilitate learning and application of this year’s book, Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain. 

Current & Future Action Steps/Timeframes: 

  • Books will be distributed in September and continue until supplies are depleted.  The monthly books discussions will begin in November and continue through April.  All sections of the book will be covered as well as the poems after each designated section. 
  • Book discussions will be advertised via list serves and the tv monitor on first floor. 

#3 Equip our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and social work community partners to be social justice leaders who can address diversity, equity, and inclusion in their lives and careers. 

Objective(s): Our committee will host a series of discussions/workshops for instructors on DE&I topics. The purpose of these meetings is to increase instructor’s exposure to strategies to integrate anti-oppressive and inclusive approaches in the classroom, with the goal of creating more inclusive and equitable classroom environments and teaching students to be social justice leaders.

Current & Future Action Steps/Timeframes: 

  • We held our first meeting (lunch and learn) of the academic year on November 11th on anti-oppressive pedagogies; 16 instructors and PhD students participated. We solicited feedback from participants and will be using this feedback to plan future meetings. We expect to hold two more meetings in the spring semester.

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.

Feedback

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.

Chair/Co-chairs: Amanda Ngola & Lynette Studer 

#1 Increase the diversity of our students, staff, faculty, and other governing bodies. 

Objective(s): Hold the 2nd annual MSW Visit day for admitted students. If it is safe to, we also plan to hold an in-person visit day for scholarship recipients.  

Progress toward goal(s) in 2021-2022: 

  • The Virtual Visit Day was held on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 9th, 2022. The subcommittee decided to only hold a virtual visit day due to uncertainty with the pandemic.  
  • The Virtual Visit Day featured 5 panels including a Welcome Address from Director Steph Robert, and brief introductions to Graduate Program Coordinators and Advisors. We added a panel on field education to demystify the field process, and continued the funding panel, Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School panel, and a current student panel. Overall, the visit day included 13 school and campus partners, 45 live attendees across the sessions, and 17 asynchronous views via YouTube. The number of participants this year compared to last year reflects the significantly smaller number of admitted students across both the Full-Time and Part-Time MSW Programs. Post-event survey respondents indicated that they really enjoyed extensive opportunities to ask questions and put faces to names. Several respondents indicated a desire to require attendees to turn cameras on or would have preferred to meet in person. Modality of the visit day will need to be thoughtfully considered for next year.  

 

#2 Equip our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and social work community partners to be social justice leaders who can address diversity, equity, and inclusion in their lives and careers.  

Objective(s): To contribute to a positive and inclusive school climate, the CoDI will offer free Community read books to all students, staff, and faculty. We will offer six monthly discussion sessions (in-person and via zoom) to facilitate learning and application of this year’s book, Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain.  

Progress toward goal(s) in 2021-2022: 

  • Books were distributed in September, and the monthly book discussions began in November and continued through April.  All, but one, of the discussions were held virtually, and all sections of the book were covered through the discussion meetings.  The committee created advertising to highlight the discussion and sent out regular email reminders.  Despite these efforts, the discussions were poorly attended (fewer than three people attended each session).   
  • All of the field seminars in the PTP and many in the FTP incorporated the Community Read into their class curriculum, so there was broad exposure to the content of the book and discussion around application. 
  • The 2022-2023 community read book has been chosen for next year, and will again be distributed in September, when classes start.  The book will be Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi-Samarasinha.  We are hoping to work with the Social Workers Confronting Racial Injustice Planning Committee on incorporating the book in some way. 

#3 Equip our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and social work community partners to be social justice leaders who can address diversity, equity, and inclusion in their lives and careers.  

Objective(s): Our committee will host a series of discussions/workshops for instructors on DE&I topics. The purpose of these meetings is to increase instructor’s exposure to strategies to integrate anti-oppressive and inclusive approaches in the classroom, with the goal of creating more inclusive and equitable classroom environments and teaching students to be social justice leaders. 

Progress towards goal in 2021-2022:  

  • We held two discussions for instructors on DE&I topics. In November 2021, we organized a discussion on anti-oppressive pedagogies; 16 instructors and PhD students participated. In April 2022, we organized a discussion on critically analyzing the use of “evidence-based social work” in coursework; 8 instructors and PhD students attended. Feedback from participants has been positive, with most participants indicating that they enjoy discussing these topics and learning from others and would like to continue having these opportunities for discussion.