Diversity Plan

Department of Communications

Tennessee State University

Diversity Plan

 Tennessee State University Diversity Statement

Adopted by the Academic Interdisciplinary Committee on Access and Diversity February 28, 2007.

 Tennessee State University, as an educational entity, values the uniqueness of its student body, employees, and constituents, both individually and collectively, and harnesses this plurality to promote the common interest of the institution and the various publics it serves. Diversity is the recognition and respect of differences and the uniqueness of individuals and organizations. Diversity is one of the core values of the University. The University supports a concept of diversity which will create an educational environment that leverages the diverse characteristics of both our student body and our employees, resulting in continuous growth and development for the University. In addition to varied human characteristics, backgrounds, experiences, and interests, the University values varied points of view and reflect these through our curriculum, policies, and related activities. We value the contributions of all faculty members, administrators, staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders. Our commitment to assuring our diversity necessitates our focus on access as the right to enter, make use of, and participate in the educational enterprise.

 The University’s 2011-2015 access and diversity goals were defined by the committee as follows:

 Institutionalize Access and Diversity Planning and Implementation.

  1. Maintain a diversified student body but also increase diversity by actively recruiting more underrepresented populations.
  2. Maintain a diversified faculty and staff but also increase diversity by actively recruiting more underrepresented populations.

 Department of Communications Diversity Plan

  Adopted by the Department of Communications Committee on Diversity June 11, 2013.

 The Department of Communications fully supports Tennessee State University's Diversity Statement and endorses the three goals of the Academic Interdisciplinary Committee on Access and Diversity. In addition, the Department of Communications’ specific department diversity goals, objectives and initiatives have been adopted and implemented to make the university policy a reality.


 Our increasingly international and multicultural society, and the increasingly interdependent relations among nations and groups, require college graduates to have a global perspective. Understanding this, the faculty of the Department of Communications is dedicated to attracting and retaining both faculty and students from diverse backgrounds and to provide opportunities for students to engage with a diverse curriculum and other diverse opportunities.

 Faculty Diversity

 The Department has been extremely successful in attracting a diverse faculty, with a balance in 2013 of approximately half male and female faculty. The faculty in 2013 included a mix of 10 whites, 12 African Americans and 1 Asian American, and natives of Africa, China and Jamaica.

  Our Goal: to maintain a balance representing gender and ethnicity; to meet or exceed the university average for minority faculty employed per academic unit.

 Student Diversity

 In keeping with the goals outlined in the Department’s Strategic Plan, the Department of Communications’ goal each year is to increase enrollment in underserved population groups. Our intent continues to be a minority student enrollment reflective of the population demographics of the University.

  Our Goal: To focus on diversity by increasing enrollment in underserved population groups by 1% each year with the university target of 5% by the 2017 academic year. Complete a departmental diversity document based on the guidelines, goals, and objectives of the university’s current diversity document.

  Programmatic Diversity

The Department of Communication's commitment to diversity extends to all our programmatic activity, including but not limited to our curriculum. Courses that deal specifically with diverse and multicultural themes include: COMM 1040 Introduction to Mass Communication, COMM 4320 Intercultural Communication, COMM 4510 Multimedia Journalism, COMM 4340, African American Rhetoric, and COMM 3520 Communications Law & Ethics, as well as required courses in the Communication Studies, Mass Communication, and Theatre tracks. In addition, programmatic diversity is reflected in a variety of initiatives and activities, such as our sponsorship of special events, our invitations to visiting professionals, our student organizations, our support for study abroad, and the participation of our faculty in professional development and other activities of the school. See Section 3 and accompanying appendices of the Accreditation Report for specific information.

Our Goal: To steadily increase the opportunities for students to be exposed through curriculum and other programmatic activity on dimensions of diversity and multicultural awareness.

Achieving our Goals and Assessing our Progress

 The Department of Communications embraces the following five objectives as a means to achieving these three important diversity goals.


Objective 1: The Department of Communications will ensure that the faculty will have the highest academic and professional qualifications to carry out the school's mission. The University’s EEO procedures are followed to actively seek, recruit and employ men and women of diverse backgrounds. In addition to these procedures, recommendations are sought from school faculty and professional organizations to further diversify the pool of candidates.

1.1                   The Department will have a professionally and academically qualified pool of candidates applying for faculty positions. The faculty will represent sufficient diversity to serve as role models and mentors to students. To this end, position announcements will be placed in publications such as the following: The Chronicle of Higher Education, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Asians in Higher Education, and Hispanic Outlook. Informal networking is accomplished through the following organizations: Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Tennessee Broadcasters Association (TBA), Broadcast Education Association (BEA), National Communications Association (NCA), International Communications Association (ICA), International Radio and Television Society (IRTS), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), and the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA).

1.2                   The department chair will maintain records of all searches, resignations, retirements, reappointments and tenure decisions.

1.3                   In order to maintain a diverse faculty, the department must retain qualified faculty members. Retention can be accomplished, in part, through a systematic program of mentoring. This program will be initiated and executed by the department’s chair and members of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, who will be charged with guiding tenure-track faculty toward reappointment, tenure and promotion. Specific school guidelines regarding faculty evaluation, tenure and promotion procedures are outlined in Appendix 4-H within the ACEJMC Accreditation Report (NAST report pending).

1.4                   The school will encourage and support scholarly and professional activities of faculty whose research revolves around people of diverse backgrounds in order to strengthen both the school's and the faculty's multicultural and global exposures, and enhance the faculty's overall academic and professional development. Specific examples of such research are described in Appendix 4-H ACEJMC within the Accreditation Report (NAST report pending).

Objective 2: The faculty will actively recruit qualified students interested in the communications and theatre industries. Within this overall objective, vigorous efforts will be made to recruit and retain students of diverse backgrounds.

2.1                   The department will identify and recruit high school students of diverse characteristics from Tennessee and other states.

 2.2                   The department will partner with the Office of Admissions in targeting minority groups in high schools and community colleges in the region, throughout the state, and nationally. The use of seminars and workshops, such as summer media projects for minority students, activities with the Office of Diversity and International Affairs, and those from the general population, will be used to identify and establish relationships with students of diverse backgrounds.

 2.3                   A number of initiatives have been put in place to help retain not only the minority student population, but all students in the department. One such initiative is the department's new advising initiative where select faculty members representing each track advise all students in those tracks. Track advisors will strive to identify and mentor minority students to ensure academic success and immersion into the program. Also, all undergraduate students are advised by the school advisor as soon as the student chooses Mass Communication as a concentration within the Communication major. Advisors work with each student, carefully explaining the school requirements as he/she prepares for registration each semester. Another initiative is the Recruitment and Retention Committee’s efforts to upgrade recruitment initiatives by targeting high school students from communications and theatre magnet schools with an increased emphasis on targeting minority students.

 2.4                   School advisors will maintain records regarding student progress.

 Objective 3: Student organizations with professional goals will benefit from the participation of students from diverse backgrounds. Such participation in student professional organizations provides important integrative experiences. Participation of diverse students in school activities will benefit all Communications students.

3.1                   Faculty advisors and officers of student organizations will provide information regarding membership, participation and activities to all students. Special efforts will be made to recruit and involve diverse students.

3.2                   Student organizations are invited to recruit new members from the Introduction to Mass Communication class, which has an average of more than 100 students annually, and from other classes where the content matches the area of focus of the organization.

3.3                   Student organizations hold meetings monthly often with media professionals serving as guest speakers. Announcements of such meetings are placed in departmental promotional materials and on-line through the website and social media.

Objective 4: It is important that diverse students have opportunities to gain professional experiences in school media on campus and professional media on and off campus through on-campus practica, student media outlets, and internships.

4.1                   Media advisors, school advisors, internships coordinators, scholarship and career development personnel, and faculty and staff members will assist students in gaining entry-level experiences in school media and media-related activities. Additionally, the internship coordinator, advisors and faculty members will seek out and assist diverse students in gaining access to student media outlets and obtaining internships, which can help develop professional skills and gain professional contacts that may lead to employment.

4.2                   Advisors and faculty members will notify the department chair of their efforts to promote integration of diverse students into campus and professional media and related internships.

Objective 5: The Department of Communications will promote course offerings and content that contribute to an understanding of our multicultural and diverse society. See Section 3 and accompanying appendices of the Accreditation Report for specific information.

5.1                   In addition, courses throughout the department curriculum include sections or units focused on gender, global, and diversity issues, as well as the contributions of these groups to mass media industries.

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