GW sets aside grant money for diversity

The University will give out $50,000 worth of grants to students and faculty for multicultural programming, curricula and research.

Associate Vice President and Dean for Student Academic Success Helen Saulny said the financial incentives could support curricula for new classes with a LGBT focus or hosting high-profile speakers.

The application process will open up Nov. 1.

“The hope is that people will use this grant to think a little outside the box or pursue some things they never had the resources to,” Saulny said.

The program is the first major initiative from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, created by University President Steven Knapp in 2010 to push multiculturalism. Two years later, GW still lags behind similar institutions in diversity, with 57 percent of undergraduates identifying as white. At Boston and Emory universities, white students make up about 49 percent and 41 percent of undergraduates, respectively.

Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed said in September that the program could fund new hires to draft coursework, a class trip to a play with a cross-cultural focus or projects like the athletic department’s recent “You Can Play” video, which highlights coach and administrative support for gay, lesbian and transgender athletes.

“Our purpose is to get everyone on the campus involved. This is reinforcing our message that the diversity and inclusion message for the University is everybody’s responsibility,” Reed said.

A faculty and student selection committee will select grant recipients later this semester. Applicants can request any range of funds.

The initiative will likely continue over the next few years, potentially on a larger scale, she said.

Director of the Multicultural Student Services Center Michael Tapscott said the grants will “open doors” for students to learn about different cultures at GW.

“It just provides some energy to getting more and more people involved, and that’s always a good thing,” Tapscott said. “We have a lot to grow around the diversity world. It’s a great way of encouraging people to look at, consider, explore and experience new perspectives around diversity.”

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