Cover Story

Former APA President Richard M. Suinn, PhD, who created the Suinn Minority Achievement Awards to honor programs that are promoting diversity in creative ways (see "Diversity: More than numbers"), gives this blueprint for creating an atmosphere that is welcoming to students of all backgrounds. According to Suinn, such programs provide:

  • Welcoming activities. Personal contacts with potential students; relevant informational/welcoming brochures; open relationships with possible feeder schools; and targeted recruitment of ethnic-minority or other students representing diverse backgrounds.

  • Entrance standards and equitable admissions. Flexible entrance standards that evaluate personal statements and references, not just test scores.

  • Leadership. Passionate leaders who will assure an integrated approach, follow-through and continuity.

  • Commitment. Dedication by the program faculty, administration and students to creating a welcoming and supportive environment so that minority students feel accepted as an integral part of the academic community.

  • Orientation session. A formal orientation to help new minority students negotiate the graduate school experience.

  • Money, mentoring, morale. Faculty that help students tap as many funding sources as possible; buddy systems and supportive faculty mentors; and the fostering of student expectations that they will succeed rather than simply avoid failure.

  • Environment, expectations. An ultimate goal of establishing an environment that expects minority students to graduate instead of simply meeting quotas, and a shift away from special attention to improve diversity to diversity becoming a mainstream expectation.

-T. DeAngelis