The Graduate School is here to support all students in their pursuit for academic excellence. We recognize that the journey is not equitable for all, and below are some of our efforts to support a diverse community.
We embrace our role as a leader in the University’s efforts to recruit, fund, enroll, retain, and graduate a diverse graduate student body. We are committed to building and fostering inclusive programs and practices that promote and support diversity. We believe that intellectual advancement and equity is best achieved by engaging students with a vast array of backgrounds, viewpoints, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, races, ethnicities, abilities, gender, sexual-orientations, and life experiences. This diversity is essential in enriching the teaching, research and service provided for and by graduate students. We strongly support the University's goal of preparing students to be productive citizens who can act as advocates for equity and inclusion.
We are honored to host a number of intiatives in support of diversity and inclusion at UNC Charlotte including formation of a Diversity Committee, as well as programming in the Center for Graduate Life.
Faculty Fellow for Diversity Initiatives
Dr. Manuel Perez-Quinones
Dr. Perez in his own words….
I am a professor in the Department of Software and Information Systems in the College of Computing and Informatics. I have been at UNC Charlotte for just over 5 years and have been in academia for over 20 years, having worked at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Virginia Tech University, and Visiting Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, before joining the College of Computing and Informatics at UNC Charlotte.
Why is a Computer Science professor leading diversity initiatives?
Good question. That is a long story that I will try to briefly summarize here. As a member of an underrepresented group in computing, and STEM in general, I had to learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion "on the job" so to speak. As such, I became a Multicultural Fellow at Virginia Tech back in 2004. A few years later, I was part of several campus wide initiatives dealing with Diversity and Inclusion (e.g., Race and the Institution Taskforce, etc.). That led to an appointment as Director of the Office of Diversity Initiatives and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Virginia Tech. This prompted a dramatic change of direction for my career and I have been involved in diversity and equity activities ever since, with particular interest in graduate education.
In computing I have been involved in numerous committees and groups seeking to diversify our discipline. In that capacity, I have been recognized for my service to diversify computing, earning an ACM Distinguished Membership (2019), the CRA Nico A. Haberman Award (2018), and the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award (2017). And that is why I am here today.
What are some of your plans as Faculty Fellow for the Graduate School?
The goal of my position is to explore how to improve/develop/manage diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in graduate education at UNC Charlotte. The responsibilities can be defined as follows:
- Increase awareness of DEI issues among the graduate school staff
- Increase networking opportunities for graduate students. We want to connect students across departmental boundaries, particularly for students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in particular disciplines;
- Assess DEI in our program offerings, policies, and public communications. We would like to ensure that our offerings are equitable and available to all students and faculty that want to participate in them;
- Develop more training and resources on DEI for graduate faculty and students. is an area that is still being developed, explored, and understood in academia. We acknowledge that we are not done learning about DEI and thus, we want to increase the opportunity for training, conversations, and participation with equity and inclusion for all members of the graduate school family.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have ideas or questions! Dr. Manuel Perez-Quinones.
Training and education of the Graduate School staff: We have engaged in conversations around topics in DEI including privilege, microaggressions, unconscious bias, etc. The long-term goal is for all of us in the graduate school to be aware of these issues and be able to spot them and react with inclusivity and non-bias responses.
Support students from different backgrounds and build community: The Center for Graduate Life has organized a series of Affinity Lunch meetings for different groups of students. They will continue to develop other events and resources to help students have more connections, peer mentors, and allies while they are graduate students here at UNC Charlotte.
Formation of a Graduate School Diversity Committee: Recognizing that there are many aspects of diversity at our university, the Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Tom Reynolds, created a committee to look at issues and develop resources to support diversity, equity and inclusion in graduate education.
Available in Spring 2021 - a new graduate course on Topics of Diversity and Inclusion – GRAD 6000/8000. The objective of this course is to explore diversity and inclusion from various multi-disciplinary perspectives. Diversity is often equated with a disciplinary view rooted in social justice. Yet, over the last few years research in diversity has demonstrated numerous disciplinary-specific points of view. Groups with more diversity perform better than other groups. Companies with a diverse employee base tend to produce better financially. These various discipline-specific findings provide a strong case for why diversity matters. Given the value of diversity, how do we build organizations and systems that are inclusive.
Diversity Goals: Dr Cheryl Waites Spellman, Interim Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, recently met with the Graduate School leadership. She shared her goals and asked for input on the diversity concerns related to graduate education. Dr. Waites Spellman's goals can be found at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The Council of Graduate School's Statement on Inclusiveness and Diversity