CSM Receives 2008 Equity Award for Minority Advances

The College of Southern Maryland was honored with the 2008 Equity Award for the Northeast region by the Association of Community College Trustees for its leadership in fostering an inclusive environment on campus and in the community for people of color. Accepting the 2008 ACCT Equity Award for the Northeast region on behalf of the college is the Board of Trustees

Increased Enrollment, Graduation Rates, Minority Hiring Honored

The College of Southern Maryland was honored with the 2008 Equity Award for the Northeast region by the Association of Community College Trustees for its leadership in fostering an inclusive environment on campus and in the community for people of color.

The award was presented at the ACCT's 2008 Community College Leadership Congress in New York City, Oct. 29.

The award cites CSM for its work “in creating an environment where students and employees of color have a strong sense of inclusion and feel valued. These efforts have resulted in large increases in the college's minority enrollment, their perseverance to graduation/transfer, and their advancement to high-paying careers.”

“The College of Southern Maryland has always been committed to ensuring that our student body is as diverse as the community we serve. When the community was affected a few years ago by a series of racially motivated hate crimes, we felt we needed to take a leadership role,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “I would like to see the college be a role model for the community—to be inclusive and to value everyone,” he added.

That leadership role has included working with the Charles County Commissioners, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inter-Group Relations and other community organizations to organize an annual county-wide “Unity in OUR Community” diversity forum that is now in its third year and has attracted more than 250 community participants. Each forum has been held at the college's La Plata Campus, with the 2009 Unity in OUR Community Diversity Forum scheduled for Feb. 28.

“President Gottfried, from day one, formed a diversity committee to make sure that the policies, curriculum and environment of the college are welcoming and inclusive,” said CSM Executive Director of Human Resources Denise Bailey-Clark referring to the creation of the President's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at the college two years ago. Clark also chairs the Charles County Blue Ribbon Commission.

“This award really honors our faculty and staff who make it their business every day to look for ways to help our minority students succeed. Our admissions staff does an incredible job reaching out to students of color. But it is not enough to bring students of color to the college—through a variety of programs and initiatives we strive to see that these students graduate and ultimately get high-paying jobs in the community,”he said.

CSM's minority enrollment in the past five years has increased by 19 percent bringing the minority student population to 28 percent of total enrollment. Admissions staff works with area schools, churches and businesses to ensure that all citizens consider and have the opportunity to attend college. “Try College for a Day,” a program which brings hundreds of students to CSM's three campuses each year, and Educational Talent Search, a program to successfully transition students of color from high school to college, have reached hundreds of students who might not have considered or applied to college, according to CSM records.

CSM's minority graduation rates have increased by 40 percent since 2004. Initiatives such as new student clubs, enhanced mentoring activities and a summer pilot program to ease students' transition from high school to college have helped to increase minority student retention to graduation.

In recognizing CSM with the Equity Award, ACCT considered factors such as number of minority graduates, minority participation in majors that offer better paying/higher mobility careers, campus environment, employment and promotion of diverse staff, community involvement, contracting with minority businesses and minority representation in its board of trustees and advisory groups.

“Our workforce is rich and reflective of our community,” said Vice President of Advancement Michelle Goodwin. The number of minority employees increased 50 percent from 2004 to 2007, according to CSM benchmark results, and the college is working toward similar increases in its full-time faculty. Additionally CSM is governed by a diverse Board of Trustees, a third of whom are minorities.

The Community College Leadership Congress brings together more than 1,200 community and technical colleges from across the U.S. to exchange ideas and strategies.

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