Ronnie Brewer

Office of Diversity

As the vice provost for diversity, Charles Robinson leads the efforts of the Office of Diversity for the University of Arkansas. The overall focus of the office is to build the diverse face of the campus, to educate internal and external audiences about the diversity goals of the university, and to facilitate new relationships to help reach the full potential of the office.

Razorback Bridge Outreach

The Razorback Bridge Scholarship program was established by the university during the 2009­10 academic year. It is sponsored by the Office of Diversity and coordinated by the University of Arkansas Multicultural Center. The program was enhanced by a $400,000 gift to the university from alumnus Richard E. Greene. In addition to scholarship support, Greene's gift will provide these students with funding for trips to visit significant historic sites.

Financial support is only part of the Razorback Bridge program. The students are provided with many educational resources to guarantee that they have the best opportunity to be personally, socially and academically successful at the university. Those resources include regular meetings with peer and faculty mentors; introduction to academic resources that can ensure high academic achievement; and professional development to help prepare students for life beyond college. The inaugural Razorback Bridge Scholarship recipients were welcomed to the University of Arkansas in the fall of 2010.

Outreach to areas with underrepresented student populations is a critical component of the Razorback Bridge program. The Office of Diversity targets the Delta region and all of eastern Arkansas, and hopes to grow the outreach in the coming months and years. During the 2009-10 year alone, more than 10 high schools were visited and informed about opportunities at the University of Arkansas.

AmeriCorps

During the 2009-10 academic year, an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow worked with the university to develop programming for Hispanic students in the local area — primarily Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville schools — to help them prepare for college.

College Access Initiative

In September 2010, the Office of Diversity launched the College Access Initiative, a program to provide ACT training around the state of Arkansas. In addition to test preparation, the initiative educates high school students about the realities of gaining admission to the University of Arkansas. In essence, students receive "how to" lessons on building the credentials for acceptance, officially applying to the school and information needed leading up to matriculation.

Chancellor's Council on Diversity

The Office of Diversity not only manages programming for the university and outreach into the state and beyond; Charles Robinson is an adviser on diversity-related activities to all areas of campus, including the chancellor's office.
In 2009, Chancellor Gearhart named 15 state, faculty, alumni and staff leaders as members of the new Chancellor's Council on Diversity. The council members assist in determining the university's diversity agenda, formulating strategies to disseminate the diversity message, identifying funding sources to promote diversity plans and serving as statewide diversity ambassadors.

A Growing Office

In March 2010, Luis Fernando Restrepo was selected as the assistant vice provost for diversity, a position he holds in addition to his professorship in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Restrepo, under the direction of Charles Robinson, develops strategies to attract and retain underrepresented students, faculty and staff. He implements recruitment and retention initiatives, helps to coordinate the Razorback Bridge Program and builds relationships with high schools in Arkansas and with colleges and universities across the country that have historically served black and Hispanic students.

African and African American Studies

In addition to serving the university as the leader of diversity efforts, Robinson is also the director of the African and African American Studies Program, which was established in 1969 and was reinvigorated in 2004 when it received targeted funding. Since Robinson's arrival on campus that same year, the program has grown exponentially, and continues to pique the interest of a more diverse population of students, alumni and friends of the institution.

The program, a part of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, focuses a great deal on creating opportunities for students, and in the summer of 2010, 19 students and two faculty members traveled to Ghana and had a life-changing experience. This is an opportunity the department hopes to offer to students every two years.