At the University of Arkansas

The IDEALS Institute

Is slated to open in fall 2019 after earning a grant to help fund its initiatives and receiving approval last month from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. The Institute, which receives external support, will provide diversity- and inclusion-related research, educational and training services, and outreach and engagement to entities across the state.

The IDEALS Institute will serve the U of A campus and partner with government agencies, community groups, philanthropic organizations, businesses, public schools and fellow higher education institutions, serving Arkansas as a hub of expertise, leadership and support for diversity and inclusion efforts.

“The IDEALS Institute — standing for inclusion, diversity, equity, access, leadership and strategic supports — will provide resources, expertise and thought leadership to advance those six key areas across our state and beyond. Research shows that diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in leadership can increase a company's bottom line, drive innovation, attract talent and foster growth — all of which translate to positive outcomes for our campus, region and state.”

Dr. Yvette Murphy-ErbyVice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion

While the Institute is opening in the fall, it is already developing a series of internal best practices and recommendations as a participant in TRUE Northwest Arkansas, a pilot initiative aimed to engage communities in diversity and inclusion, administered by Arkansas Community Foundation with support from the Walmart Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation.

Dr. Elecia Smith will lead the Institute’s development as its Executive Director. She brings a wealth of qualifications to the role, highlighted by working in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance at the U of A and nearly seven years in human resources and diversity-related positions in Fulbright College, in addition to serving on numerous diversity committees at the university and in the community.

The Institute will continue to be supported in part by grant and philanthropic support and revenue generated from its services.

For more information about the IDEALS Institute, please contact Dr. Elecia Smith at ecs002@uark.edu.