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Doctor of Psychology - Systematic and Multiple-Year Diversity Plan

The Doctor of Psychology in Applied Psychology Program at Western Kentucky University has established a program of training designed to equip students with skills to complement the science and profession of psychology in the service of promoting and affirming inclusion, equity, and diversity. We define diversity broadly as including (but not limited to) race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, religion, physical or mental disability status, socioeconomic status, national origin, veteran status, career stage, professional discipline background, and the intersection of these multiple identities. We seek to combine the science and practice of psychology in service of promoting and affirming inclusion, equity, and diversity. Below we describe the program’s efforts to infuse attention and sensitivity to diversity through 1) a long-term, systematic plan for the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students; 2) education and training of students; and 3) establishment of a climate of respect. 

Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Staff and Students

Our program’s diversity plan includes a breadth of strategies for both recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and students. Open faculty positions are advertised in a general audience publication (i.e., the APA Monitor) and posted on WKU’s Human Resources webpage. In addition, these position advertisements are distributed to: colleagues in other psychology graduate departments, including those of HBCUs and Latinx-serving institutions; various society listservs including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2), the Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12), the Society for Child Clinical and Adolescent Psychology (APA Division 53), the Council on Undergraduate Research; and through additional social media outlets and professional groups (e.g., Facebook, Psych Job Wiki). In all faculty position advertisements, we state our commitment to increasing the diversity of the university community, specifically encourage those whose strengths and experiences contribute to institutional diversity, highlight the existing diversity of the Bowling Green, KY community, and explicitly encourage persons with disabilities to apply. We also reaffirm our program’s and the university’s non-discrimination policy in accordance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. 

We continually endeavor to recruit diverse graduate students. To cater to non-traditional students who work full-time, we offer a variety of courses on weekends and evenings. We have actively modified our admissions process for our program to reduce known barriers for diverse applicants (e.g., providing a portfolio option in lieu of the GRE requirement). We encourage international applicants and provide information to assist in their application via institutional supports such as the Global Learning and International Affairs unit. In addition, we strive to recruit students with non-psychology backgrounds (e.g., social work, counseling, education) to enrich the multi-disciplinary diversity of our cohorts. We explicitly state our program’s value for diversity in our student handbook which is available on our program’s website. In an effort to recruit students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, we offer financial assistance to students via graduate assistantships, teaching opportunities for the department, and tuition assistance. We also recruit diverse students during their undergraduate experience in the department through high-quality teaching, promotion of our graduate programs, and advising of all students. Advisors share information with students and assist them with obtaining training experiences that prepare them for graduate study (e.g., undergraduate research experiences, field experience). This is especially true for diverse students who may lack access to resources or mentorship to prepare them for graduate school. 

To retain diverse faculty, our department creates an inclusive, team environment that encourages collaboration and acknowledgement of individual faculty members’ strengths. This collaborative environment is conveyed in our department’s mission statement available on the departmental website. Senior faculty are very accessible to new faculty both informally and through formal mentoring arrangements. For example, new faculty can be assigned up to three faculty mentors based on senior faculty’s strengths in teaching, research, and/or service. Our department celebrates the diversity of its faculty and strives to expand its diversity by creating a welcoming, supportive, equitable environment. 

We employ a variety of strategies to retain diverse students. As already noted, we cater to non-traditional students who work full-time by offering weekend and evening course offerings.  To retain students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, we offer financial assistance to students via graduate assistantships, teaching opportunities for the department, and tuition assistance. We offer financial assistance via graduate assistantships, tuition assistance, and teaching opportunities through the department and graduate programs. We encourage diverse students to apply for a variety of fellowships and awards. For example, several of our diverse students have received the Distinguished Minority Fellowship, a competitive fellowship designed to help minority students attain graduate degrees by providing tuition as well as employment opportunities. Furthermore, we encourage ethnically and racially diverse graduate students to apply for the Kentucky Psychological Association Multicultural Student Professional Development Award, which can be used for multicultural initiatives, trainings, conferences, events, or professional membership dues. We also encourage students to seek awards through WKU’s Gender and Women’s Studies department, including the Seneca Falls Personal Empowerment Award, Catherine Coogan Ward Feminist Action Award, and P.E.O. Projects and Philanthropies for Women. Fellowship and award information can be found in our program’s student handbook as well as on the program website.  

Education of Students

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is conveyed through a variety of course offerings highlighting the rich diversity of the human experience with an emphasis on application of knowledge to improve students’ communities. Faculty and students engage in applied research activities representing a wide, diverse range of topic areas and populations.  

Within the PsyD program, a number of efforts demonstrate how we educate students on diversity, equity, and inclusion. First, we infuse diversity-related topics across a number of our foundational and core courses.  Second, we require completion of an individual differences and diversity course to improve cultural competence. The course emphasizes individual differences, intersectionality, and current social justice and advocacy issues related to the mental health field. Third, our students gain a perspective on the diversity of professions by interacting with other healthcare professionals during their assistantship, practicum, and internship experiences. In addition, we encourage our students to seek interdisciplinary training opportunities offered at WKU through the Area Health Education Center’s AHEC Scholars program, which emphasizes inter-professional education, social determinants of health, cultural competency, and behavioral health integration. Experientially, PsyD students work with diverse clients, clinical supervisors, and agencies, which exposes them to a broad array of demographic characteristics, clinical needs, and organizational and community cultures. Often encountered in these training experiences are contexts characterized by socioeconomic disadvantage, rural geographic locations, healthcare provider shortages, and people who are vulnerable due to limited resources. 

Climate of Respect

Our university, college, department, program, and community each celebrate and promote diversity through a variety of efforts, and we encourage our students to participate in this celebration. The larger university commitment to a climate of respect for diversity is evidenced by the fact that WKU invites speakers frequently to address individual and cultural diversity issues across a variety of topics. Program faculty also connect with various student and university groups to offer diversity related events. All faculty members complete Title IX and ADA training through WKU’s Human Resources website. Our faculty engage in research on diverse topics and support one another’s scholarship. We share experiences and collaborate with one another. Faculty are active in a variety of service opportunities within and outside of the university to support diverse groups. For example, several clinical faculty volunteer their time to a local psychiatry residency program to provide training in psychotherapy. 

We believe implementation of this multiple year, systematic plan improves recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students, infuses diversity into student education and professional training, and promotes a climate of respect. We evaluate this plan every Spring to assess its effectiveness and consider revisions to further enhance the program’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. 



Gary A. Ransdell Hall, Office 3012

1906 College Heights Blvd. #11030,
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1030

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 Last Modified 1/31/22