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In a push to diversify its faculty, Columbia University pledged $100 million over five years toward recruiting staff and providing career development for professors and students from underrepresented groups, reports Columbia News.

Cognizant of the lack of diversity in higher education, the institution initially unveiled an $85 million diversity initiative in 2005, the news outlet writes. Under the initiative, professional development programs were created to diversify the faculty at the institution’s Harlem campus. Inspired by the impact of the 2005 initiative, Columbia’s Medical Center used it as a blueprint to create its own program six years later.

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The $100 million will further the university’s efforts to overcome retention problems among faculty and provide dual-career support and mid-career grants for tenured professors, the outlet writes.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger says that this commitment to diversity will be an integral part of expanding the institution’s programming and initiatives.

“Each of our schools is dedicated to using these resources for recruiting the most talented faculty, retaining our diverse community, and supporting critical research,” Bollinger told Columbia News. “This is a longstanding initiative inseparable from Columbia’s identity and core values.”

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Dr. Dennis Mitchell—who serves as the vice provost for faculty diversity and inclusion at Columbia University—is elated to see the expansion of the institution’s diversity initiative. Mitchell started overseeing the diversity outreach for Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine fifteen years ago and has seen a significant increase in the number of students who were from underrepresented groups. According to Columbia News, when he first started only 3 percent of students were from diverse backgrounds and that number increased to 22 percent.

“We have grown our own programs,” Dr. Mitchell told the source. “Diversity changes the climate and the culture of the university. We can’t have excellence without diversity, and the belief that they are separate things is a fallacy.”

Earlier this year, Columbia University announced that it would partner with HBCUs for a new fellowship that would make corporate opportunities more accessible to Black students.

SOURCE: Columbia News

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