Solutions for Higher Education engages in deeper reflection of critical issues in the world of colleges and universities.
In Episode 9, President Scott L Wyatt and Professor Steve Meredith discuss the importance of diversity in leadership positions, especially in the field of higher education.
One of the goals of higher education is to elevate people and to give everybody opportunities for success. In order to reach everyone, SUU needs diversity in their leadership who can identify the needs of each group of students on campus.
“Diversity is important for us because we want to make sure that every single group, every category of people, everyone, gets a chance,” said Wyatt.
SUU has students from 56 different countries around the world, as well as students from every underrepresented minority groups in the United States. Part of SUU’s strategic plan is to introduce students to diverse cultures and areas of study, which is impossible to do without a commitment to diversity.
President Wyatt quotes research done on diverse teams, stating that a diverse team performs better and provides better outcomes than a team with the same background. Having diversity in a team leads to a more satisfying and higher quality conclusion, even if that diversity comes from adding one female to an all-male team.
The United States is defined by diversity. Other countries have distinct cultures, food, educational strategies, etc. but the U.S. is a conglomeration of different cultures.
“There’s no question in my mind that because American culture is America’s top export, that what appeals to the rest of the world about American culture is largely driven by diversity,” said Meredith.
By having a more diverse group of people solve problems and to push a corporation or institution forward inevitably results in a better destination.
“The kind of diversity that makes us better is diversity of racial and ethnic groups, gender, age, and thought,” said Wyatt. “The more we add diversity and get different ideas in a room, we become stronger and stronger and stronger.”
SUU has the highest graduation rate when compared to all regional public universities in the eight Intermountain West states. In those same parameters, SUU has the highest graduation rate for women, Native Americans, and other diverse groups.
“Diversity isn’t elevating one group,” said Wyatt. “Diversity elevates all groups. We’ve been using the word ‘diversity’, but perhaps the right word we should be using is ‘inclusion’. You’ve no doubt heard the saying that ‘Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance’. May I suggest that inclusion is more than giving the opportunities to dance, it’s that we all get to enjoy a better dance.”
Listen to Episode 9 here: https://www.suu.edu/presidentspodcast/