GARY, Ind. (WISH) — Diversity is paying off at Indiana University Northwest. The university is using a new $5 million grant to expand STEM access on campus, and there will be special focus on low-income and Black and brown students.
IU Northwest representatives said it has the most diverse student body out of all the IU campuses. Around 25% of the student body is Hispanic, giving the school a special distinction as a Hispanic-serving institution.
IU Northwest in Gary is one of the five universities under the IU umbrella. For years, building diversity on campus has been part of the university’s plan.
“It’s not like we just woke up and was like, ‘Hey, we have to pay attention to student success. Especially those for marginalized communities and underserved communities,'” said University Chancellor Ken Iwama.
“We started doing our first foray into these types of grants and, just recently, hot off the presses, we got a $5 million grant from the Department of Education to advance our STEM education,” he continued.
The grant allows for curriculum redesign and faculty development, giving students experience in the courses as early as freshmen year. Other wrap-around components will include employment, mentoring and STEM coaching.
“We can learn from each other and that helps us become better global citizens,” said Dr. James Wallace.
Wallace is the director of diversity equity and multicultural affairs. The university population makeup lines up with local demographics since it has a robust Hispanic population.
“We need to have different perspectives brought to the table. Whether it be in mathematics, whether it be in the liberal arts, whether it be in the arts in general — you need to have diversity of opinions and perspectives,” said Wallace.
Iwama said diversity in colleges help create diversity in workforces.
University representatives say the STEM grant will allow them to also better engage with high schools to help grow the student body.