Faces of MU
There’s no doubt that Millikin University has changed significantly throughout its 122-year history. Everything from the campus landscape to the community of people who inhabit it has evolved, and each year this change continues as we welcome new faces to campus and send graduates into the world.
With every term, our students’ backgrounds, needs, talents and skills change, both naturally over time and as the result of significant events, such as a global pandemic or the addition of academic or athletic programs.
What does this constant change mean for Millikin? According to Vice President for Student Affairs Raphaella Prange, it means that the University must evolve alongside its students in order to support them and help them succeed. Being responsible for the changing student body and responsive to their needs and differences sits at the center of the initiative in Millikin’s Strategic Plan that aims to “nurture a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.”
Historically, the demographics of Millikin’s student body have shifted to reflect the changing demographics of the United States. In recent decades, the diverse student population at Millikin has increased from approximately 4% to nearly 33%.
“Around one in three students you see as you walk around campus are not going to identify with what is considered the majority,” Prange commented.
She emphasized that diversity not only defines a student’s race or culture, but also includes LGBTQIA+ students, those with accessibility needs and students who have different learning needs.
As Millikin embraces the diversity spanning the entire campus community, including students, faculty and staff, the importance of inclusion has been brought to the forefront.
— Raphaella Prange, Vice President for Student Affairs
- Making sure that Millikin is a place where everyone feels like they have a voice, that they belong and that their culture and background are respected are very important
“Millikin is working to make sure our practices and community are friendly to individuals from all backgrounds, identities and abilities. That’s why we have chosen IDEA — Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility — as our acronym for this initiative.”
This approach to inclusivity is distinct among several similar models utilized by other schools and organizations, as it acknowledges accessibility as a large part of the inclusion conversation.
“We are considering things like physical ability and students who are struggling with mental health. We know that mental health is a very big issue coming out of the pandemic.”
Ronald L. Branch, Vice Chairman of Millikin University’s Board of Trustees, said that he believes making inclusion a priority on campus will help improve the University for generations to come.
— Ronald L. Branch, Vice Chairman of Millikin University’s Board of Trustees
- This part of the Strategic Plan is so critical, because embracing, accepting and helping our diverse student body succeed makes everything else about Millikin University more successful
To implement Millikin’s initiative to nurture a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, strategic goals and actionable steps have been identified.
Goal One: Intentionally revise policies and procedures to promote inclusive excellence across campus.
Goal Two: Actively recruit, retain and invest in faculty, staff and students from historically marginalized backgrounds.
Goal Three: Foster a sense of belonging for all who engage with Millikin.
“We really want to show our commitment to supporting the ever-changing and diverse student body that we have, and that will continue to grow at Millikin,” Prange said.
Branch said that Millikin is already ahead of the curve compared to similar institutions in terms of inclusion. Resources on campus such as the Student Success Center (Formerly the Center for Academic & Professional Performance) help students overcome accessibility obstacles, while the Center for International Education (CIE) supports students who represent more than 30 countries around the globe.
Prange explained that the initiative to prioritize inclusion and belonging across campus is directed at Millikin’s entire student population. “Every student at Millikin is an example of how we can create more inclusive practices because no student’s experience is one-size-fits-all. This initiative is about making sure everyone’s needs are met.”