Jackson Family Fund helps future academic leaders get to know Oregon State

February 14, 2022

Step by step, Oregon State University is becoming a more equitable, inclusive academic community – and donors like Steven Jackson, ’20, are helping this work move forward.

Steven Jackson standing in a sweater

The former Beaver Football standout and professional football running back – who now serves as an OSU Foundation Trustee and on the advisory board for OSU’s director of athletics – generously supports the Office of Institutional Diversity. Last summer, his gift creating the Jackson Family Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund helped OSU pilot a new program designed to help the university recruit underrepresented faculty and staff.

Through the Pre-Doctoral Scholars Program, four ABD (all but dissertation) graduate students spent a week at Oregon State. Each was paired with an OSU faculty member engaged in a similar area of research to help them explore opportunities in their field; the group is pictured below. The program showcases all OSU has to offer while building collaborative relationships with future academic leaders.

Attracting diverse talent from across the nation is one step toward making OSU a place where all can feel at home and where everyone can succeed. The result: an even greater impact on the world.

“Increasing the diversity of the Oregon State community means that we’ll have more ideas and more approaches to solving problems,” Jackson notes. “We want this to be a place where students and faculty realize that OSU will welcome them with open arms and they can thrive – where they can become even more than they dreamed. Those who want a brighter future and a university that they can be proud of can all stand together in unison on this.”

Faran Saeed is a graduate teaching assistant for the Ettihad Cultural Center and doctoral student in the College of Education. “Often times, students of color and people from marginalized communities do not have a blueprint for success, especially if they are from the first generation in their families to attend college,” he says. “So having a mentor who looks like them or has gone through similar experiences can be incredibly empowering and can prevent them from feeling isolated.”

Group photo of the Pre-doctorial Scholars program

In summer 2020, OSU launched the “Moving Forward Together” initiative in alignment with the university’s strategic plan 4.0 and diversity strategic plan. It articulates 45 actions to support the long-term success of students, faculty and staff of color. Nearly half of those actions are completed, and all others are underway.

Learn more about ways to engage with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at OSU.