Everyone knows Utah is a great place for hiking, skiing, biking, and a whole lot more—and many of those attending school in the west know it’s also a great place to get your degree. But this fall the whole country has been learning about the University of Utah and all it has to offer. An EDI scorecard adds to the U’s winning message and further highlights the many ways that the U is working to build an inclusive, high-quality learning environment where everyone knows they belong.
The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse recently named the U a top ten public institution—coming in at #8 nationally among public schools and #43 overall. The formula for rankings used by the publication emphasizes the quality of the student experience (including opportunities to learn with to a diverse faculty and student body) and the impact a degree has on future earnings—while de-emphasizing institutional resources, such as the size of a school’s endowment. The student-centric approach represents a new model for assessing the performance of colleges and universities based on what benefits they offer their graduates.
Similarly, the new EDI scorecard aims to promote transparency by highlighting EDI’s impact on campus and student experiences. The report includes data on the effectiveness of the division over the past year across four priority areas: ensuring belonging for all, fostering an inclusive campus climate, amplifying community engagement, and securing health equity. These four areas were identified by the EDI Strategy Council as most important for strengthening the university’s mission and benefiting the campus community.
Under one category, the scorecard shows how various resource centers help bolster students’ sense of belonging on campus—helping them to feel more academically and socially supported as well as professionally prepared. Belonging is especially important on college campuses because it can bolster student persistence to deal with challenges and impact how well they perform in classes. Some studies even suggest that belonging can begin to impact student retention in the very first year. EDI resource and culture centers include the Center for Equity & Student Belonging (CESB), the Black Cultural Center (BCC), The American Indian Resource Center (AIRC), and the Dream Center. On a five-point scale, the EDI scorecard shows that students who visited the centers did so an average of six times—and their sense of belonging improved by 10% after visiting the centers in the past year.
BCC Program Coordinator Sara Cody says “it’s nice to have somewhere you can go to where someone just gets it. For some of our students that is home, but when students need other resources (e.g., because they live on campus and/or can’t travel home regularly) we need to provide those supportive spaces.” As the EDI scorecard demonstrates, for many students, EDI’s cultural and resource centers serve as that supportive space, a home away from home.
Other areas of success are also evident on the EDI scorecard—including steps to improve the campus climate, and energized community engagement. University of Utah Health is also making tremendous progress by measuring and increasing health equity—and through programs such as Saturday Academies, which dramatically increases the likelihood that students will choose to pursue graduate school in medicine.
Overall, the new EDI scorecard further bolsters the University of Utah’s claim to its top ten status. Amid record growth for the U and expanding interest among students in the state flagship, it also demonstrates how EDI is working to build a campus environment where everyone knows they belong.