Diversity Initiatives

The mission of Luther College explicitly affirms the educational, social, and civic benefits of diversity: “As people of all backgrounds, we embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community, to discern our callings and to serve with distinction for the common good.” 

In fact, as a community, we see diversity as essential to learning. It stimulates new questions and perspectives by challenging accustomed ways of thinking and responding. Moreover, students equipped with knowledge gained through their experiences in a diverse learning environment will be better prepared to respond to the complex challenges of living in contemporary societies, whether in the U.S. or abroad.

Diversity Initiatives at Luther

The Diversity Center provides services and assistance for U.S. minority and international students at Luther, and offers educational programming and events for all Luther students. The Center works to promote a greater appreciation and a deeper understanding of the diverse individuals and groups that make up our campus, strengthen access to multicultural perspectives within the tradition of a liberal arts education, and advocate for policies that safeguard the inclusion and participation of all members of the community.

Student Support Services (SSS) TRIO is a federally funded (U.S. Department of Education) student retention program sponsored by Luther College. The program is designed to help ensure academic success for Luther students who meet federal eligibility guidelines and are committed to enhancing their academic experience.

Luther College is a member of The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation/IINspire (Iowa Illinois Nebraska STEM Partnership for Innovation in Research and Education) Alliance—a group of Midwest schools funded by the National Science Foundation to provide research opportunities, stipends, and mentoring for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups intending to earn baccalaureate degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) fields.  

Consortium for Faculty Diversity: Luther College is a member of this select association of colleges committed to increasing the diversity of students, faculty members, and curricular offerings at liberal arts colleges, with a particular focus on enhancing the diversity of faculty members and of applicants for faculty positions. Membership enables Luther to offer dissertation fellowships and post-doctoral fellowships to enrich the ethnic and racial diversity of our faculty, maximize the educational benefits of diversity, or increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of students.

Summer Bridge Programs (pre-college):  Luther offers a Summer Science Symposium and Business Seminar, designed to provide an intensive summer experience for students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education. Specifically, the program is targeted to ethnic minority students and/or first-generation college students who show great promise for college entrance and eventual service to their professions and communities. The Summer Seminars began in 1995 to provide a challenging experience for students interested in careers in the sciences or business. The intensive six-day program is designed to provide students with hands-on experiences, to work with professors and Luther College students on real research projects, participate in classes and laboratories, and conduct site visits to science or business-related companies.

Connect for Success is a semester-long program designed by the Diversity Center to help orient students to Luther's academic and campus culture, assist students with building relationships and community with other  students, faculty and staff, and build bridges between people of different backgrounds. It begins with a three-day workshop before orientation and continues with programming and mentors throughout the first semester.

Friendship Families: The International Student Friendship Family Program is a program that links new international students with individuals or families in the Luther College and Decorah area communities. The goal of the program is to promote international understanding and friendship, develop an appreciation of how others live and view the world, and assist new students in the process of adjustment to Luther College and the United States. Students and their Friendship Families gather in informal settings and learn about life in the U.S. and Iowa, and about the home culture of the student. The friendship that grows between a student and his or her Friendship Family can promote diversity and cultural awareness that will last a lifetime.

Black History Symposium In February 2004, Luther College sponsored the first Midwest Black History Month Conference. Each year, the Luther Diversity (LDC) partners with the Africana Studies Department to host a scholarly conference at Luther focused on a particular aspect of study of the black Diaspora, a concept that links the spread of Africans and people of African descent around the world and allows for comparative and interdisciplinary studies of Black culture and experience. 

Diversity Council: The Diversity Council is a standing committee of the college composed of faculty, administrators, and students, and representing every academic division of the college, the office of human resources, the Diversity Center, and the international student advisor. The Council acts as the main campus voice on issues of diversity, including the status of women and other historically underrepresented groups; advises and supports campus diversity programming, training, and faculty and staff development;  supports and assists the staff of the Diversity Center; and serves as an outreach resource to the Decorah community.