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The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.                                                                          

Oprah Winfrey

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

abe lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

Core Tenets


Relational Advising listen, rapport, trust


Servient Leadership open communication, empathy, stewardship

sitting by the wildcat

Transformational Leadership advocacy, equity, inclusion

Guiding Theoretical Frameworks & Best Practices

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

American psychologist Abraham Maslow's Theory of Human Motivation informs what many people know as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, often depicted as a pyramid.  The theory posits that basic needs must be met before a person moves up the pyramid toward self-actualization and transcendence.  

CGPDI provides food to food-insecure students; safe spaces for marginalized and underrepresented identities to convene, socialize, organize, and advocate; one-on-one appointments for students to share their experiences and develop a sense of belonging; mentoring and professional development opportunities to help students transform into career-ready professionals and practitioners.    

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs mirrors and informs CGPDI's approach to helping graduate and professional students from underrepresented identities feel welcome, safe, and prepared to fully engage and succeed in their graduate and professional programs.  


Nancy Schlossberg Theory of Marginality and Mattering

Retention is easy to measure but hard to validate.  CGPDI's approach to developing retention programming is to recognize the barriers that students from underrepresented identities often encounter.  Not feeling welcome, like one belongs, is a reoccurring theme; not feeling valued or as important as members of the dominant demographic is another reoccurring theme.  CGPDI uses Nancy Schlossberg's Theory of Marginality and Mattering to center and elevate diverse voices and experiences.  

nancy scholls

UK Strategic Plan Alignment

Putting Students First

Student success is CGPDI's primary mission.  From identity-based support groups to professional development grants, the work of our office is to help underrepresented graduate and professional students feel welcome and acquire the skills, mindsets, and experiences to succeed in their chosen fields.

How we put students first:

  • Mentoring Program
  • Professional Development Grants
  • Identity-Based Support Groups
    • My Brother's Keeper
    • Sister Circle
    • OutGrads
  • Workshops
  • 1-on-1 Appointments
  • Writing Accountability Groups


Taking Care of Our People

Justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion work can be heavy and difficult.  CGPDI's staff often helps students deal with complex academic and personal situations.  While the work is rewarding, the mental toll can be debilitating and lead to burnout.  Our office has instituted several measures to help our staff stay healthy and prepared to help students succeed.

How we take care of our people:

  • Quarterly mental health days
  • Wellness Wednesdays
  • Team and individual professional development
  • After work happy hour

Inspiring Ingenuity

The best benefit of diversity is improved outcomes.  Diverse voices, experiences, and backgrounds help strengthen and improve ideas, products, processes, and systems.  Ingenuity and innovation often occur at the crossroad of collaboration and partnership.  CGPDI works to bring together diverse voices and talent to engage, ideate, and strategize.

How we inspire ingenuity:

  • Support scholarly work
  • Cultivate space for collaboration across all 16 colleges and degree-granting programs
  • Create recruitment strategies
  • Create retention strategies, programs, and initiatives 

Greater Trust & Transparency

CGPDI is a support unit and needs the trust of its campus and community partners to develop relationships and understand the needs of diverse graduate and professional students.  Additionally, a central component of Servient Leadership is good stewardship of resources. 

How we develop trust and provide transparency:   

  • Focus Groups
  • Interviews
  • Annual Report

Many People, One University

Retaining and graduating diverse students is about more than academic and economic opportunity.  Do students feel safe in our community?  Do they feel welcome?  Is their voice heard and ideas celebrated?

CGPDI strives to bring together students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members for fellowship, support, and shared learning.  Our programs and initiatives create safe spaces for all community members to learn, interact, and experience local, national, and international cultures. 

How we bring people together:

  • Ubuntu Multicultural Orientation
  • Inclusive Health Summit 
  • Graduate Diversity Honors Reception
  • Cultural Events