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Dr. Jason F. Kirksey

OSU’s commitment to diversity efforts is paying off

Friday, December 4, 2020

Oklahoma State University’s continued efforts toward improving diversity and inclusion have paid dividends over the past decade.

Dr. Jason F. Kirksey, OSU vice president and chief diversity officer, shared that message during this month’s Community Advancing Conversation Series. The presentation was titled “The State of Diversity and Inclusion at OSU.”

“The goal is to have conversations that help us learn and understand about issues and aspects of diversity and inclusion at Oklahoma State University,” Kirksey said. OSU strives to “engage in conversations and dialogues that help promote and advance our culture of inclusion.”

Unlike previous conversation series that featured multiple participants, December’s episode — livestreamed at OState.TV and available to watch here — had Kirksey showcasing highlights about OSU's efforts since 2009.

Undergraduate enrollment for students of color increased 103 percent from fall 2009 to fall 2020 with the following increases by ethnicity:

  • African American — 24.4%
  • Asian American — 53.2%
  • Latino/Hispanic — 289%
  • Native American — 53.4%

“We have plenty of room to grow and work to do, but it is important to recognize and acknowledge the work and the efforts that we have done,” Kirksey said.

Students of color earning bachelor’s degrees increased 107 percent from 2010 to 2020 with the following increases by ethnicity:

  • African American — 27.9%
  • Asian American — 61.2%
  • Latino/Hispanic — 357.1%
  • Native American — 48.2%

Over the same period, students of color earning master’s degrees increased 57 percent and doctoral students doubled.

“Again, we have plenty of work to do and plenty of room to grow but in terms of increasing overall graduation rates … we are headed in the right direction in ways that place us differently than a lot of institutions around the nation,” Kirksey said. “It is OK to have a sense of pride. We are proud but clearly not satisfied.”

The university’s commitment to creating a culture of inclusion has been recognized with a multitude of national awards over the past decade. OSU is one of seven institutions in the country and the only university in Oklahoma to earn INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for nine consecutive years. The magazine has also named OSU a Diversity Champion — among those that rank in the top tier of HEED Award recipients — four straight years.

“We are the single most highly decorated institution in the nation in terms of nationally prestigious diversity and inclusion awards over the past several years,” Kirksey said. “One of the ways that matters is it helps us recruit outstanding students … and outstanding faculty.”

 MEDIA CONTACT: Mack Burke | OSU Editorial Coordinator | 405.744.5540 | mack.burke_iv@okstate.edu

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