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Office for Institutional Diversity - Vice President's Blog

Students italking


UK: A Culturally Engaging Campus
By Dr. Sonja Feist-Price

The Office for Institutional Diversity, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost, is working to ensure a campus community where every student, faculty and staff feels a sense of belonging.  The Culturally Engaging Campus Climate (CECE) Model serves as a standard of inclusive excellence that exists at myriad academic institutions and provides a framework for academic success that is relevant for racially diverse students, as well as all students.

Consistent with the University’s 4 Pillars of Academic Excellence, the CECE Model suggests that a variety of external influences (i.e., finances, employment, family influences) shape individual influences (i.e., sense of belonging, academic dispositions, and academic performance) that contribute to students’ academic success.  According to this model, college students enter academic institutions with precollege inputs (i.e., demographic characteristics, initial academic dispositions, academic preparation) that also play a role in individual influences and success. The most critical aspect of the CECE Model emphasizes the interplay between a culturally engaging campus environment and individual influences as it relates to academic success.  Specifically, this model suggests the extent to which a campus community offers cultural familiarity, culturally relevant knowledge, cultural community service, and opportunities for meaningful cross-cultural engagement is positively associated  with more affirmative individual factors and ultimately greater college success outcomes among students, particularly as it relates to student persistence and degree completion.

Here, at the University of Kentucky, President Eli Capilouto, Provost Tim Tracy, the Office for Institutional Diversity, and other key stakeholders work diligently to ensure every student feels a sense of belonging and is recognized as a valued member of our campus community. The Unconscious Bias Initiative, which focuses on incorporating an understanding and awareness of unconscious or implicit bias to foster an environment in which all of our constituents feel a sense of belong and empowerment, is an essential resource used to ensure success.  Beginning Fall 2017, efforts will be underway to include students in this initiative, which has already involved over 4,000 faculty and staff. 

As we continue our efforts to positively impact belonging and engagement, the CECE Model will be used as a framework to ensure a culturally engaging campus environment. Together, we work with purpose and a sense of collaboration to ensure every student has an opportunity to succeed within their chosen discipline and beyond.