New initiative to help diversify grad schools

Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs Elizabeth Graddy and Vice Provost for Graduate Programs Sally Pratt announced a new initiative to increase diversity and create a more inclusive culture in USC graduate schools Wednesday. The Graduate Initiative for Diversity, Inclusion and Access also aims to recruit a wider range of graduate students from groups that are underrepresented.

The initiative is divided into three sections which approach different issues surrounding increasing graduate diversity. The first section will establish a stipend of $32,000 starting in fall 2017, which will help fund students selected for graduate programs. This funding will either be added to an existing fellowship from the graduate school or from the graduate school or program as part of the “top-offs” program already in place.

The second part of the initiative enacts the “DIA JumpStart Program,” a recruiting program which will be introduced on a smaller scale in the summer of 2016. This program aims to increase the pool of possible applicants so that USC graduate programs receive a more diverse set of applicants. This summer, the program will provide students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California State University, Los Angeles and Loyola Marymount University with a research-intensive summer program at USC.

The research experience will combine mentoring and research training with activities that address the lack of diversity in academic settings. The three universities selected for participation are institutions with significant minority populations. According to the provost, the program hopes to see an increase in applications from these students following the first program.

The final part of the initiative creates a series of camps and events for students. First is the “DIA Boot Camp,” a 10-day workshop in the summer for incoming and first-year PhD students applying for fellowships such as the Ford Pre-Doctoral, GEM or Soros fellowship. Following in the fall are the “DIA Boot Camp Boosters,” a series of one-day workshops for the students who graduated from the summer boot camp.

In these sessions, students will continue to pursue outside scholarships and work on a variety of professional and academic skills, along with building a community with their fellow PhD students. Supplementing these workshops will be a series of professional networking events for students to gain professional contacts.

The initiative’s first steps will take place in summer and will expand in continuing years.