Early in 2009, the feds asked US universities and colleges to identify their students by race and ethnicity. UAF reported its minority population at 15.5 percent. Though that percentage won’t rank UAF among the most diverse US universities, the school is happy 2010’s minority enrollment rise.
This year, UAF has enrolled 331 American Indians, 507 Asians, 861 Hispanics or Latinos, and 1,128 African Americans. There are also 461 students who belong to more than one race enrolled this year. In previous years, there were no boxes for biracial students. The federal government does, however, require students who are Latino and of another race to check the “Hispanic” box.
The increase in minority enrollment is a kind of a big deal for Charles Robinson, UAF’s vice provost for diversity. “I am happy to see that our numbers of underrepresented students are growing,” Robinson said. “This success reflects the efforts of students, faculty and staff who work hard throughout the year to make our campus a more diverse and inclusive one.”
Last year, UAF’s minority enrollment was at 2,841. This year, the presence of 3,313 minorities on campus is less than 700 students shy of the university’s goal to enroll at least 4,000 minority students. The Latino presence on campus has most visibly increased as an additional 162 Latino students have enrolled this fall.
When Newsweek compiled its diversity stats, it looked at several factors other than race and ethnicity. The Newsweek report of the nation’s most diverse campus included economics, geography, sexual orientation and gender. Newsweek’s list of the most diverse college campuses are also listed as the most “gay-friendly” college campuses in the country. The list also considers the population of students from out of state as well as from other countries.
UAF tracks its international student body and notes a slight decrease in what the school terms “foreign” students. Last year there were 5.8 percent “foreign” students, but 5.4 percent. in 2010. Whites comprise 78.5 percent of UAF’s total student body. That percentage is down from 2009’s 78.9 percent.
Overall, there are 16,814 white students on campus which is 1,142 more than last year.
With the increases in enrollment of the entire student body as well as the minority student population, UAF diversity programs will be busy this year working on student retention. National research and investigative reporting of college campuses with commendable graduation rates have found that schools with a strong focus on retention, not race or ethnicity, usually garner the best outcomes.
In other words, schools that have a focused initiative to make sure all of their students graduate are schools that typically produce higher and better graduation rates of all their students, both minority and Caucasian.