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Local colleges sticking to diversity

July 21, 2018

Local colleges say they remain committed to racial diversity regardless of the Trump administration’s recent guidance that race should no longer be considered a factor in school admissions.

If anything, Fort Wayne campuses aim to become more diverse : even Indiana Institute of Technology, where 39 percent of students are non-white, including 34 percent who are black, according to the college data and ranking website CollegeSimply.com.

Indiana Tech “has very high racial diversity,” the site states.

“As the numbers indicate, we’re one of the most diverse universities in Indiana and in this region. We are not currently looking to change our admissions policies and procedures, but we are continually seeking ways to increase the diversity among our faculty and staff to serve our diverse student population even more effectively,” Brian Engelhart, Indiana Tech’s vice president of university relations, said in an email response to questions from The Journal Gazette.

“The development of a vibrant, inclusive and diverse culture connecting all of our campuses and locations is one of six primary goal areas in the university’s strategic plan,” Engelhart said.

He said Indiana Tech recently created a position called associate vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity office. The job was filled by Lisa Givan, who began this week. 

The White House this month rescinded federal guidance that encouraged colleges and universities to increase racial diversity through their admissions standards : a reversal criticized at the time by civil rights organizations. First reported by the Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump’s Justice and Education departments ruled that a set of policies introduced by former President Barack Obama’s administration had gone beyond legal requirements established by Supreme Court decisions in affirmative action cases.

The policy change came a couple of days after IPFW officially split into Indiana University Fort Wayne, which offers degree programs in health sciences, and Purdue University Fort Wayne, which offers more than 200 degree programs.

Jerry Lewis, Purdue Fort Wayne’s interim vice chancellor for communications and chief marketing officer, said 1,575 of IPFW’s 8,077 domestic college students in fall 2017 were non-white, or 19.4 percent of total enrollment. He said international students were not counted because their race is not reported to state and federal education departments.

IPFW and now Purdue Fort Wayne have grown their student recruiting targets since the installation of Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer last year, Lewis said in an email.

“As we continue to expand our reach into large cities like Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Detroit : as well as internationally : we will have greater opportunities to achieve increased diversity,” he said. “We are being equally aggressive as we work to improve the diversity of our faculty and staff.”

Chuck Carney, director of media relations for Indiana University Bloomington, said much the same thing about his school and its branch campuses, including IU Fort Wayne.

“As an aspirational goal we are always looking to increase the diversity of our faculty and student body. Recruitment efforts as we move forward will look at identifying opportunities for engaging underrepresented populations,” Carney said in an email.

“We have just started outreach at the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Wayne and are looking to partner with other area community agencies to help identify prospective students for our programs,” Carney said.

Roughly 29 percent of IU Fort Wayne’s 450 students are nonwhite, Carney said.

CollegeSimply.com states that nonwhite students account for 19 percent of the more than 2,000 students at the University of Saint Francis : a percentage the website calls “very low.” Another college data and ranking site, CollegeFactual.com, describes that figure as “pretty average” among American colleges.

Saint Francis recently announced it has hired a director for diversity and inclusion. Paul Porter starts his job Monday.

The Saint Francis website states that the university’s Diversity Resource Center aims “to promote equity and diversity principles in the campus community. Goals will be to encourage a diverse student population and student leadership, while developing resources to improve the academic success of minority groups at USF.”

In August, the New York Times analyzed freshman minority student enrollment at 100 colleges and universities, including some in Indiana and neighboring states. Based on 2015 data, non-white students accounted for 15 percent of all freshmen at the University of Kentucky, 17 percent at Indiana University Bloomington, 18 percent at Ohio State University, 26 percent at the University of Michigan, 27 percent at the University of Notre Dame, 41 percent at the University of Chicago, 43 percent at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and 45 percent at Northwestern University.

Non-white students are those who are black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or multiracial.

Young adults might be the final authority when it comes to racial diversity on college campuses.

“We’ve found that all of our students mention the diversity they find here as a positive thing, whether diversity in our domestic student population, or the fact that we have international students from a variety of countries,” Indiana Tech’s Engelhart said in his email. “They like the fact that it is that way.”

bfrancisco@jg.net

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