Percentage of minority students at Uconn on the rise
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 01:09
University statistics show that the undergraduate student population is getting more diverse by the year.
Since 1990 undergraduate minority enrollment has been on the rise, climbing from 10.3 percent in 1990 to 23.3 percent in 2012.
In Connecticut, according the United States Census from 2010, the minority population is 18 percent, which is reflected well in the undergraduate population at UConn.
While this year’s percentage of minority students is reflective of the state, Jeffrey Ogbar, the Vice Provost for Diversity, says that forward thinking is essential in maintaining diversity for the future. Ogbar said that “We want to have a campus that reflects the world around us…ideally if we carry with the state and our minority population reflects the state of Connecticut it will be a success.”
Ogbar also said that diversity is critical for a school such as UConn that is constantly looking to expand its offerings both outside and within the classroom. “Diversity is necessary for critical thinking. A more diverse population has more critical thinkers than a homogenous one,” Ogbar said. Ogbar also emphasized that diversity comes in many forms, including interest, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and race. The diversity of the UConn undergraduate population can be seen not only in the increase of the minority population, but also in the plethora of student organizations that represent ethnicities such as Albania, Cambodian, and West Indian.
In order to maintain diversity on campus and to keep university focus on the issues facing a diverse community, the Office of Diversity implemented the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee (SCOPE). The committee, created at the beginning of summer 2013, aims to advance diversity within the staff, faculty, and students by recruiting staff and faculty from diverse backgrounds and addressing the issues of these diverse groups of people. According to the committee’s mission statement “the committee is charged with developing bold ideas and approaches to advance efforts to recruit, retain, and ensure equity of faculty, staff, and students.”
SCOPE faces many challenges with diversifying the faculty and staff population. Many disciplines are very appealing to certain genders, ethnic groups and races. For example, Ogbar said that the faculty within The School of Nursing is predominantly female, whereas faculty in the School of Engineering tends to be mostly male. This presents a challenge for SCOPE to battle within the coming years. Ogbar says recruiting faculty from diverse backgrounds as well as staff is a goal for the committee.
In the coming years, SCOPE and the Office for Diversity and Equity hope to increase the minority population in further attempts to diversify the undergraduate student body. The goal is to mirror the state’s own diversity statistics in order to best represent the actual population. Ogbar said, “Our hope is, as the flagship university, that we will be a state university that serves the people.”