Tag Archives: Diversity

Diversity Institutionalized

University of Georgia Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Garfield Cook (Photo credit: Brittni Ray)
University of Georgia Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Garfield Cook (Photo credit: Brittni Ray)

International students at the University of Georgia are familiar with three branches of administration: the Offices of International Education, Student Life and Institutional Diversity.

Of these three offices, the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) is led by Michelle Garfield Cook, who is the OID’s associate provost and chief diversity officer.

According to Cook, the increase in international students from Asia can be attributed to two primary causes. The University boasts new programs in biological sciences and engineering that bring more international students to Athens, Ga. The University admissions office also partners with alumni in China in order to bring programs to the attention of Chinese students.

Cook also mentions that there is a correlation between faculty and student diversity, particularly for those of Asian origin. “It’s almost direct. It’s around 9 percent. And that’s kind of that sweet spot when you think about diversity. You want to have a nice, a reasonable number, of students, in terms of the percentage of faculty.”

That being said, Cook highlights the University’s diversity plan (which has a target completion date of 2016) as one of the OID’s priorities for the coming year. “It’s probably at the top of our list. We’re not [solely] doing the plan — it’s a campus effort — but we want to make sure we continue to shepherd that plan.”

The diversity plan, which was initiated in 2011, has five main objectives, one of which is an “increase in the recruitment and retention of diverse students.” According to the plan, indicators of success in this area would include campus-wide diversity, an increase in international programs and the number of historically underrepresented students at the University of Georgia.

Table 1: Growth in UGA’s international student population between 2001 and 2013



For the 2013 year, 2,547 international students studied at the University, making international students a little over 7 percent of the student body. In 2000, international students comprised 5 percent of the student body.

Then-Provost Jere Morehead recognized the need for increased student diversity in his 2011 letter detailing the diversity plan:

“Still, there is more that can be done. This five-year diversity plan provides a framework to encourage further progress. It is incumbent on all members of the university community to promote the goals outlined here.”