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Admissions Office Gets Award For Diversity Efforts

By Jody Record, Media Relations
January 10, 2007

© Doug Prince, Richard Haynes, associate director of admissions-diversity (L) NAACP President Fred Ross and Robert McGann, director of admissions (R). Gary Cilley, senior associate director of admissions, is in the background.

The admissions office was honored by the NAACP of the Seacoast this week for their efforts in recruiting students of color to UNH. It is the first award of excellence the chapter has given outside its organization.

NAACP President Fred Ross described the strides the university has made in just the four short years since he was elected head of the Portsmouth-based branch, including the opening of the multicultural center and the steady increase in enrollment of minority students.

“When I first came on, there was very little minority representation at UNH,” Ross says.

“When you don’t have diversity it hurts people. There’s a whole world outside New Hampshire.”

Several years ago, the admission office went through a strategic planning process to address the issue of minority representation on campus. One of the goals they set was to increase the diversity of the applicant pool and the entering first year class.

“We knew we had to make sure the staff had the skills and competencies necessary to engage a population that may have different perspectives and experiences than those of the staff member responsible for that territory,” says Robert McGann, director of admissions.

“We committed ourselves to ongoing professional development in this area. For example, we hired a woman from the N.H. Minority Health Coalition with experience in cultural competency training to lead the office through a 10-month process to increase awareness and understanding of the dynamics that exist within different communities.”

Ross praised UNH for the efforts made in hiring qualified people, naming, among others, Sean McGhee, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Wanda Mitchell, vice-president of diversity, and Richard Haynes, associate director of admissions-diversity.

“We just want to say on behalf of our organization, thank you, thank you,” Ross says. “Not just the help we’ve gotten from the university but from the entire community. Sometimes we don’t speak out enough—sometimes we’re speaking to the choir.”

McGhee called the NAACP award a “very good thing.”

“They’re netting results,” McGhee says of admission office efforts. “When you look at the numbers, you see. And you know the numbers are going to continue to grow. They’re doing a really great job with staff training and job role modeling.”

He credits the admissions office with “doing the work”--implementing new strategies and getting results. This year’s first-year class has 6.7% multicultural students in it. This is a record high for UNH.

“They know the strategy to recruit students of color is different from the strategy to recruit others,” McGhee says. “They make it personal. If you have concerns about diversity, you need to make it personal.”

The NAACP award is a reminder to people of how the university system supports education, Ross says, not just for people of color but for all students. And that, he adds, supports the goal.

“We need to keep producing well-rounded students,” says Ross. “And, the better the mix of students, the more prepared they are for the real world.”

Of receiving the award, McGann says, “The Admissions Office is honored to receive this recognition from the NAACP. We recognize there is much work to be done to further enhance the diversity of our campus that benefits all students, faculty and staff. We feel our approach is sound and valid and we are optimistic about continued success.”

The Seacoast NAACP was first organized in 1958 at the People’s Baptist Church. Membership is open to anyone as the group strives to better the political, educational, and socio-economic status of minority groups, eliminate prejudice and make the public aware of its adverse effects.

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