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Diversity Asset Inventory
Q & A on the Importance of Diversity in Higher Education
(from the American Council on Education with questions added by the BSU Community)
Importance of Diversity in Higher Education
colleges and universities differ in many ways. Some are public, others are
independent; some are large urban universities, some are two-year community
colleges, others small rural campuses. Some offer graduate and professional
programs, others focus primarily on undergraduate education. Each of our more
than 3,000 colleges and universities has its own specific and distinct mission.
This collective diversity among institutions is one of the great strengths of
America's higher education system, and has helped make it the best in the
world. Preserving that diversity is essential if we hope to serve the needs of
our democratic society.
many colleges and universities share a common belief, born of experience, that
diversity in their student bodies, faculties, and staff is important for them
to fulfill their primary mission: providing a quality education. The public is
entitled to know why these institutions believe so strongly that racial and
ethnic diversity should be one factor among the many considered in admissions
and hiring. The reasons include:
Q: How does diversity support learning?
Diversity enriches the educational experience. We learn from those whose
experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these
lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social
Q: How does promoting diversity on campus support student development?
It promotes personal growth--and a healthy society. Diversity challenges
stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking; and it helps
students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied
Q: What are the benefits of promoting diversity beyond the campus experience?
It strengthens communities and the workplace. Education within a diverse
setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex,
pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; and it helps build
communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and
Q: What are some practical benefits of supporting diversity on campus?
It enhances America's economic competitiveness. Sustaining the nation's
prosperity in the 21st century will require us to make effective use of the
talents and abilities of all our citizens, in work settings that bring together
individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
colleges and universities traditionally have enjoyed significant latitude in
fulfilling their missions. Americans have understood that there is no single
model of a good college, and that no single standard can predict with certainty
the lifetime contribution of a teacher or a student. Yet, the freedom to
determine who shall teach and be taught has been restricted in a number of places,
and come under attack in others. As a result, some schools have experienced
precipitous declines in the enrollment of African-American and Hispanic
students, reversing decades of progress in the effort to assure that all groups
in American society have an equal opportunity for access to higher
Achieving diversity on
college campuses does not require quotas. Nor does diversity warrant admission
of unqualified applicants. However, the diversity we seek, and the future of
the nation, do require that colleges and universities continue to be able to
reach out and make a conscious effort to build healthy and diverse learning
environments appropriate for their missions. The success of higher education
and the strength of our democracy depend on it.