Chief Diversity Officer announces increase in diverse student enrollment, campus opportunities for underrepresented individuals

Xanayra Marin-Lopez, Multimedia Editor

A total of 3,536 App State students who enrolled in the fall 2020 semester belong to diverse identities. This is a .4% increase in underrepresented students compared to fall 2019 where 17.4% of the student population belonged to these groups. 

Xanayra Marin-Lopez

Chief Diversity Officer Willie Fleming updated the App State community in an Oct. 26 email about various campus resources for underrepresented students, faculty and staff. 

Fleming shared milestone statistics on minority populations and their representation for this fall semester. 

Fleming announced the implementation of the Advance Appalachian program. With the help of a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the program is designed to aid gender equity among those teaching or studying in STEM fields at App State, with an emphasis on women students from underrepresented populations.

The Advance Appalachian team of faculty includes Fleming, Jennifer Burris, Andrew Bellemer, Brooke Hester and Claudia Cartaya-Marin, who will work on the program over the next three academic years.

All on-campus faculty and staff will receive training and work-life resources from the program. The team will also provide professional development and mentoring opportunities focused toward faculty who are women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields.

The Career Development Center has created an online hub with resources available for underrepresented students and identity groups. Their website has tabs for students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, students with diverse abilities, student veterans, international students and student athletes.

Fleming also said that the Black at App State Collective meets with university administration once a month, and last met Oct. 8. 

At the meeting, a committee of nine individuals was created to lead the review and reporting of work completed toward the collective’s demands. This includes three representatives from the collective, three Black student-athletes and three App State leaders, including Fleming, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J.J. Brown and Interim Provost Heather Norris.

This committee will meet monthly to present reports to the full accountability team for feedback. 

After Black at App State’s initial petition and statement this summer, the administration responded with an accountability group in charge of overseeing the implementation of the group’s demands. Members of the Chancellor’s cabinet belong to this group.