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College of Information and Communications

Diversity and Inclusiveness

Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Adopted and Approved by the Faculty 02/21/2020.


The School of Journalism and Mass Communications is committed to the mission of the College and the University to build a diverse, inclusive, supporting and inspiring campus culture.


The School of Journalism and Mass Communications recognizes the importance of diversity in its various forms and defines diversity as cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, gender identity, religious, thought, and physical ability. Consistent with University, ACEJMC and US census designations, and based on the population of the area the university serves, we define under-represented students, faculty and staff as African American, Hispanic/Latina/o, Native American, and Asian Americans. Many of our initiatives also target first-generation students, as noted in the strategic plan.

The SJMC’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion incorporates the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees--approved University Equity and Inclusion Strategy’s three key components: composition, achievement, and engagement and inclusion, and is consistent with the College’s 2019 Strategic Plan and the University’s 2020 strategic priorities. As an Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) accredited unit, the School’s diversity, equity and inclusion plan also addresses the expectations of Standard 3, Diversity and Inclusiveness. 

STRATEGY ONE – Composition

Enhance the diversity of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications faculty, staff and students. The SJMC values diversity in the composition of our students, faculty and staff and will fulfill the following commitments: 

A.   Increase undergraduate and graduate student diversity to reflect the diversity of the South Carolina population.

Key Tactics:

  • Develop pipeline programs that target enrolled under-represented undergraduate students who are undeclared majors or transfer students.
  • Develop pipeline programs with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and other institutions domestic and global to attract underrepresented students to the graduate program.
  • Form partnerships with local media organizations to build awareness of careers in journalism and mass communications to attract undeclared majors.
  • Establish scholarships that aid in attracting, recruiting and retaining underrepresented and first-generation students.

Performance targets and metrics – How we will measure our success:

  • Annually track and compare the number of underrepresented undergraduate majors admitted as freshmen and transfers, and those who declare a School major after their freshman year.
  • Annually track and compare the number of underrepresented students enrolled as graduate students.
  • Annually track and compare the number of underrepresented students attending pipeline events.

Progress toward targets:

  • Since 2013, the SJMC has established pipeline programs and partnerships with local media and universities to attract underrepresented students to SJMC undergraduate and graduate programs, including dual degree programs. Since its inception, the MLK Day of Champions partnership with the local chapter of American Advertising Federation (AAF) has attracted 125 underrepresented students.
  • In 2018, the SJMC and College of Information and Communications established a consortium with other universities to attract underrepresented students to diversity academies. More than 100 students have participated.
  • In 2018, the CIC created the Trailblazer Scholarship to augment existing designated scholarships to attract, recruit and retain underrepresented students. The SJMC has more than a dozen diversity and inclusion scholarships.
  • Launched the Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Studies Open House in 2018, a recurring event targeting underrepresented students. In the past two years, the event has attracted nearly 100 students.

Note: The university’s undergraduate admissions office is responsible for student recruitment and admission. The CIC participates in pre-admitted and admitted student welcoming activities and relies on programs outlined above to attract and retain current underrepresented majors and undecided majors already admitted in the SJMC as undergraduates. The CIC also houses the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association (SCPA) and the Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA) organizations that are also effective recruitment vehicles for targeting middle and high school students. The College has hired a full-time graduate student recruitment manager to assist in recruiting underrepresented students. 

B.   Increase SJMC underrepresented faculty to better reflect the diversity of students and the state population, and where feasible, recruit international faculty. Based on current faculty composition in the SJMC, African American and Latino/a faculty members are the most under-represented.

Key Tactics:

  • Work with college leaders and faculty to identify critical areas of underrepresented faculty to reflect the diversity in the SJMC student body and South Carolina population.

  •  Conduct training in diversity, equity and inclusion for faculty interested in serving on faculty search committees.

  • Recruit at national and international meetings of professional organizations.

  • Identify, cultivate and invite diverse scholars in the field to campus as guest speakers, keynote speakers, visiting professors, panelists, and presenters at campus research symposia, and encourage them to apply when positions are advertised.

  • Create a consortium with other universities with doctoral programs in the field to attract under-represented faculty among new PhDs.

  • Create a “grow your own” pathway to the professoriate for select outstanding under-represented students enrolled in the SJMC doctoral program.

  • Establish an alternative path to tenure-track appointments, and consider other titles such as professor of practice or clinical professor for the appointment of diverse faculty with strong professional credentials and industry ties.

  • Establish endowed chairs that do not require a PhD.

  • Develop an under-represented student post-doctoral program.

Performance targets and metrics– How we will measure our success:

  • Annually track and compare increases in the number and percentage of full-time, tenure-track underrepresented faculty in the SJMC.
  • Annually track and compare increases in the number and percentage of full-time, non-tenure track underrepresented faculty in the SJMC.
  • Annually track and compare increases in the number and percentage of part-time/adjunct underrepresented faculty in the SJMC.
  • Annually track and compare increases in the number of underrepresented faculty in search pools; number of underrepresented candidates among search finalists, and the number of offers and hires made to and accepted by underrepresented finalists.

Progress toward targets:

  • A 2017 national search for up to two tenure-track positions yielded an African American woman finalist, to whom an offer was made but not accepted.
  • We have hired two African American women and one African American man as adjunct faculty members.
  • The SJMC hired an African American woman as a full-time instructor during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • The SJMC has hired an African American man as a full-time instructor effective January 2020.
  • The SJMC has identified prospects for the grow your own pathway.
C.   Increase professional staff diversity to better reflect diversity in the SJMC student and South Carolina state populations.

Key Tactics:

  • Create a college-wide Staff Council to monitor progress in composition, achievement, equity and inclusion of staff in the SJMC.
  • Identify and encourage professional staff participation in professional/administrative development opportunities.
  • Develop a more structured/systematic exit interview process.

Performance targets and metrics -- How we will measure our success:

  • Annually track and compare the composition of the staff to ensure that it reflects the student population served by Student Services and other areas within the SJMC organizational structure.
  • Increase the number of underrepresented applicants in the search pool, increase the number of underrepresented staff candidates among the finalists, and increase the number of diverse staff hires.
  • Annually track and compare staff participation in professional development activities.

Progress toward targets:

  • Since 2016, four new diverse hires were made in student services among administrators and staff, including the assistant dean for Student Services, career services manager, and two academic advisers.

STRATEGY TWO – Achievement

Provide the support needed for all members of the SJMC community to be successful in their teaching, learning, research, scholarship and work. 

A.   Continue to meet ACEJMC expectations for Standard 3, Diversity and Inclusiveness, for an inclusive curriculum.

Key Tactics:

  • We will enhance our curriculum that fosters understanding of issues and perspectives that are inclusive in terms of domestic concerns about gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
  • We will develop curricula and instruction that educate and prepare students with multicultural knowledge, values and skills essential for professional practice.
  • We will provide coursework in international cultures/communication.
  • We will include instruction across the curriculum in issues and perspectives relating to mass communications across diverse cultures in a global society.
  • We will provide opportunities to learn about career opportunities for all students, including those who are underrepresented and first-generation.
  • We will hold regular career fairs, seminars and panel discussions featuring diverse perspectives, panelists and other participants, and encourage participation of under-represented and first-generation students.

Performance targets and metrics – How we will measure our success:

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge and familiarity with diverse, inclusive and global issues.
  • Unit guest speakers and lecturers will provide a diverse and global perspective.
  • Course mapping will show evidence of a diverse, inclusive and global perspective in syllabi and courses.
  • We will provide diverse course offerings each semester.
  • We will monitor internships for evidence of diversity awareness among students.

Progress toward target:

  • The Baldwin Lecturer series has featured women and people of color during the past six years;
  • The SJMC biennial Media and Civil Rights History Symposium, founded in 2011, features scholars from various disciplines and approaches that address the vital relationship between civil rights and public communication from local/national/transnational contexts, perspectives and periods.
  • The CIC’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Research Symposium highlights SJMC student and faculty research in diversity and inclusion and features prominent national diversity scholars. The symposium was established in 2018.
  • The SJMC encourages student participation in College, local, and national competitions for internships, scholarships, and other career development opportunities. 
B.   Enhance academic outcomes for underrepresented students.

Key Tactics Among Others:

  • SJMC Student Services will develop and implement academic interventions based on high-impact practices, including early warning systems to ensure student academic success.
  • We will continue to increase scholarships and stipends that support underrepresented graduate and professional students.

Performance Targets and metrics – how we will measure our success:

  • Annually track and compare underrepresented student four-year graduation rates with the goal to obtain rates that are equal to the average graduation rate for all students.
  • Annually track and compare increases in number of graduate degrees conferred to underrepresented students.

Progress toward targets:

  • We have annually increased both new scholarship creation and scholarship/fellowship awards.
  • During the 2019 fall semester, the SJMC had 11 African American students enrolled in its graduate programs—its largest in the past three years.

STRATEGY THREE – Engagement & Inclusion

Engage SJMC in the learning, understanding and practice of diversity, inclusion and equity; and, foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for students, faculty, staff, administrators and visitors.

A.   Increase the engagement of SJMC students, faculty, staff, and administrators in courses, training and events that promote the awareness and understanding of diversity, inclusion, critical analysis and civil discourse

Key Tactics:

  • Encourage faculty, staff and graduate student participation in the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) Teaching Towards Inclusive Excellence (TTIE) Certificate of Completion program for diversity and inclusion.
  • Provide forum for exploring issues involving race, gender, and other forms of diversity.
  • Encourage faculty and staff participation in diversity training offered by the School, College and University.                     

Performance targets and metrics– How we will measure our success:

  • Annually track and compare the number and percentage of SJMC faculty, staff, administrators and students participating in programs and courses that promote awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion.
  • Annually track and compare the number and percentage of SJMC faculty, staff, administrators and students attending forums exploring issues involving race, gender, and other forms of diversity.

Progress toward targets:

  • Four SJMC faculty and staff participated in the 2018-2019 inaugural Teaching Towards Inclusive Excellence certificate program within the Center for Teaching Excellence, including one faculty member who received a grant to develop a new diversity and inclusion course.
  • Our PRSSA chapter won second place in the 2018-19 national Bateman Team competition for its entry on diversity and inclusion, “Commit 2 Connect” Diversity and Inclusion Tool Kit for corporations, agencies and nonprofits.
  • We launched forums such as the Dean’s Lunch and Lead program for student, faculty and staff, and the Brown Bag Lunch series, “Let’s Talk About Inclusive Excellence,” to encourage discussions about what diversity means in the college community. The forums attracted a combined 100 participants during the 2019 fall semester.
B.   Create and maintain a welcoming environment that encourages all to excel, a climate that is free of harassment and all forms of discrimination, accommodates the needs of those with disabilities, and values the contributions of all forms of diversity.

Key Tactics:

  • Expand the awareness of Bias Incident Reporting and micro-aggressions.
  • Improve the communication of diversity and inclusion as a strategic imperative.
  • Perform annual climate survey.
  • Ensure equity in faculty pay and rank.

Performance targets and metrics – How we will measure our success:

  • Annually track and compare key results of the annual climate survey and use these data to develop new programs to improve the environment for students, faculty, staff, administrators and visitors.
  • Annually track and compare faculty, staff, and student participation in training on diversity, equity and inclusion issues, including campus safety; accessibility and accommodation; civility and workplace integrity.

Progress Toward Targets:

  • Held campus safety training for faculty and staff during the 2019 fall semester. Accessibility/Accommodation; civility and workplace integrity training will be held during the 2020 spring semester. 

Review ACEJMC Standard 3»

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.