Stories of Impact: Valuing Diversity at Ohio University’s Patton College
Ed Prep Matters is featuring “Stories of Impact” to showcase AACTE member institutions with educator preparation programs that are making a positive impact in their communities and beyond through innovative practices. We are committed to sharing members’ success stories and encourage you to do the same.
As America and its school-age population grow increasingly diverse, educator preparation programs are striving to recruit and prepare more teachers from historically underrepresented groups. Statistics show that by 2050, the United States will have no clear racial or ethnic majority, yet the educator workforce remains largely White—a mismatch decried as violating students’ educational civil rights.
Among the educator preparation providers taking successful action on this issue is Ohio University’s Patton College of Education. Through an ambitious campaign by administrators, Patton’s minority enrollment is already at 16% for the 2015-2016 school year, up from 13% in 2011. The college’s participation in the AACTE Holmes Program also contributes to its success in recruiting and supporting doctoral students from underrepresented populations.
In addition to developing a more diverse teaching workforce, faculty say the benefits of a heterogeneous student body include building a collective community with long-term implications for intergroup relations. “We live in a diverse society, and it’s important for our faculty and student-body composition to be reflective of society,” said Mona Robinson, associate professor and chair of Patton’s Counseling and Higher Education program. “Our students benefit by learning in a diverse environment, and they are able to more effectively serve in their communities and globally.”
Adah Ward-Randolph, adviser for the campus’ AACTE Holmes Scholars and herself an alumna of the program, agreed. “When each culture brings their cultural identity,” she said, “students realize that they have more in common than in difference, which in turn is a strength and not a weakness.”
The college’s diversity efforts have focused on attracting more minority students and making sure that they feel at home and welcome once on campus. Rakib Hasan, a student from Bangladesh who is working toward his master’s degree, feels the value of this hospitality and support. “I feel great to be a part of Ohio University and the Patton College,” he said. “All the faculty, teachers, and staff I have found here are helpful and friendly.”
Current AACTE Holmes Scholar Jessica Henry, who will graduate from the college this April with a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision, agrees. She said, “I credit Dean Renée A. Middleton and my chair, Dr. Mona Robinson, for helping me to define my voice [as] a woman of color and a teacher.” Henry says she has learned that everyone, including herself, has a voice and a story that has its own perspective on the world.