Grants available for MU diversity

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Faculty and staff hoping to improve diversity on campus are now able to apply for a series of grants from the University Office of Mission and Identity.

According to Christine Firer Hinze, associate professor of theology and the chair of the Grant Selection Subcommittee, the awards are designed to "devise ways to encourage diversity in their classes."

Stephanie Russell, the executive director of Mission and Identity, said that the awards also "give venues for faculty and staff to try new things."

Since the inception of the Marquette Excellence in Diversity Grants and Curriculum Enhancement Grants over the last few years, have been awarded for new courses on multiculturalism and ethnicity, the revision of courses to bring in new material dealing with diversity, as well as workshops and lectures, Hinze said. These grants are part of a decade-long effort to improve diversity on campus.

Owen Goldin, associate professor of philosophy, won an award in 2002. He said that he is developing a class, schdeuled to debut in Spring 2005, which will focus on philosophical treatments of nationalism, diversity and ethnicity.

Another grant was given out last year so that Tibetan monks could visit and perform a ritual involving sand art, which was created and then destroyed by the monks as a demonstration of the impermanance of life, Hinze said.

The Metcalfe Chair, which was started in 1981 after Ralph H. Metcalfe Sr., an Olympian and later Congressman from Illinois was designed to bring in scholars and professionals of color to spend a week on campus, delivering lectures and visiting classes. Among the previous chairs were author Chinua Achebe in 1993 and scholar Cornel West in the fall of 1994.

Russell said that in the three years she has been on campus, she had not heard any negative response to the grant-funded programs increasing diversity.

Shrinivas Joshi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and expert on multiculturalism, said that more money and awards were needed for multicultural events on campus. He had planned to invite minority speakers on engineering to Marquette with a grant, but was not able to obtain one. He was not applying for a grant this year, he said.

Firer Hinze said that more people were aware of the issue of diversity on campus. She said that over the last few years, the recognition of a need for diversity was "slow, but it is increasing."

Joshi agreed, saying that the issue that required a "gradual process."

"We are aware that this is a situation that needs to be corrected," he said.

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