I have a number of articles on diversity (my favorite topic) to share today:
Diversity Offices Aren’t What They Used to Be: Ronald Taylor, a sociologist who became a top diversity officer at the University of Connecticut, had built one of the broadest campus-diversity offices in the country by 2008. UConn’s Office of Multicultural and International Affairs, a part of the provost’s office, was responsible not only for cultural centers, ethnic-studies departments, and the equal-opportunity office, but also for several international units that typically aren’t included under diversity programs. Among those were the European-studies department, other area-studies programs, and the study-abroad office.
Then Mr. Taylor retired from his position as senior vice provost; a new university president came on board; and the diversity office was largely dismantled. Damon A. Williams, co-author of a new book about the structure of the large diversity offices that have sprung up in academe in the past decade, recounts the UConn tale to illustrate how vulnerable those offices remain, even as more and more colleges create them.<Read more.>
How Colleges Measure the Return on Diversity: One would think the booming diversity industry in academe might lead to a surge in demand for consultants, to help colleges design strategies and deliver programming.
But campus officials say diversity consulting in higher education remains a niche business provided by a slew of small operators. There is no equivalent of McKinsey & Company, the management-consulting firm, in what many in academe have come to call “the diversity industry.”
When Cornell University began to craft a comprehensive diversity plan several years ago, it brought in Estela Mara Bensimon, a professor of higher education at the University of Southern California who studies racial equality in academe. Cornell used the Equity Scorecard assessment that she had developed to look broadly at areas where underrepresented minority students were lagging behind others, says Lynette Chappell-Williams, associate vice president for inclusion and work-force diversity. <Read more.>
Christian Colleges’ Special Need for Diversity: Christian colleges need to become more racially and religiously diverse, for several reasons. More diversity would help these colleges maintain enrollment, and in some cases even survive, in an era of rising costs and economic pressures. It would improve the quality of education. Finally, for those of us who are Christians, it’s the right thing to do, according to our religious principles.
But the enrollment argument might be the strongest reason these days. A recent study done by the Pew Research Center concluded, “Compared with their elders today, young people are much less likely to affiliate with any religious tradition or to identify themselves as part of a Christian denomination.” One in four adults under age 30 was unaffiliated, describing their religion as “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “nothing in particular,” the study found. <Read more.>