How Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity Impacts Higher Education

The 88th Oscars certainly stirred the pot on diversity in Hollywood, and how it impacts the rest of society.

Whether you are a fan of Hollywood, or Chris Rock, or none of the above, it’s important to understand the impact of what we see on-screen – and what it means for our next generation of P-20 students.

A recent report from Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism highlights the “whitewashing” of Hollywood films. In essence, the report found that even when there are roles available for minorities, they are given to white actors who then “dress the part” to pull it off. The roles the report mentions go above and beyond the old-school blackface that white actors used to throw on in film’s earliest days. Some are simply characters that were historically of color, but were changed to have Caucasian characteristics in the films.

If you’ve been paying any attention to Hollywood over the past decade, none of these findings are shocking. In one of the most purportedly progressive industries in the world, women and minorities get much less screen time, talking time, and pay than their white, male peers.

So what does all of this mean when it comes to our college students? How does something as seemingly insignificant as Hollywood affect diversity in higher education?

Not enough role models

We already know that there are just not enough roles for black actors in movies or on television but let’s break that down a little further. Think about some of the most popular movies that showcased college students in the past decade – Neighbors, Old School, Van Wilder. In the spirit of classics like Animal House, these movies represented the fun side of earning a college degree in a constant state of inebriation but most of the students were white. You can probably spot a token minority character in each, but the lead roles all went to white males who, despite their often ridiculous antics, were still awarded degrees in the end. If they weren’t awarded degrees, they still landed on their feet with some other sort of job (unrealistic for all college students). The problem with leaving black students out of this college conversation on film is that it subtly sends a message that a higher education is something reserved for white, privileged men (and some women, too).

The scenario doesn’t improve when movies graduate to the adult world. When you think of a black man in a movie that is set in contemporary times, what role comes to mind? A police officer or detective? A drug dealer or pimp? How about a black woman? With the exception of breakthrough roles like Viola Davis’ lead in the hit TV series “How to Get Away with Murder,” there are not a lot of women in professional roles on-screen. As already mentioned, even roles that could feasibly be played by people of color are given to white people who are then praised for their outstanding performances acting like a person totally different from who they actually are. In truth, minorities are a vibrant, important part of the American workforce. They are professionals (who aren’t always in law enforcement), teachers, CEOs and small business owners. Where are these characters on screen?

The problem with slave movies

Even historical films have their issues when it comes to the way diversity is portrayed. Hollywood likes to pat itself on the back for films like Twelve Years a Slave but do they really represent progress? These movies certainly tell important stories but they provide roles that show black actors in a stereotypical light. Why have the only black-led films to win Best Picture awards centered on slavery? It’s almost as if Hollywood has decided that to fix this problem of diversity on screen, movies that have “black” roles need to be made.

That’s not the entire solution though. How about making that lead fictional character who is a teacher a black actor? Or writing in stage directions that all crowd scenes be half minority and half women? Putting black actors in a ready-made film category is part of the problem; it further distances them from the mainstream movie industry. It essentially sends the message that only explicitly black roles go to black actors – and that hurts the overall portrayal of diversity everywhere, including on college campuses.

Solving the Hollywood diversity problem won’t directly improve inclusion on college campuses, but it certainly can’t hurt. As higher education professionals, we should support the push to change what we see on screen – and point out the problem whenever possible to our students of all races and ethnicities.


Diverse Conversations: Building the largest diverse campus in the nation

The University of Central Florida may not immediately be associated with being the premier institution of higher education in its state, but that’s all part of its underdog appeal.

In the past two decades, the University of Central Florida has tripled its enrollment numbers to 63,000 students this fall, quietly becoming the largest undergraduate institution in the country.  UCF has one of the most diverse college campuses, too. With community college partnerships, UCF boasts a thriving first-generation college alumni and is also expected to reach Hispanic Serving Institution status (at least 25 percent of the student population of Hispanic heritage) in the next few years.

Overall, UCF has a racial/ethnic minority enrollment of around 45 percent. I spoke with UCF’s Chief Diversity Officer Karen Morrison about the great strides this rapidly growing public university is making in the state of Florida, and beyond.

Question: How does being in a metropolitan setting influence diversity?

Answer: At UCF we like to talk about being “of the community” not just “in the community.” Orlando is very diverse and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. That growing, changing community contributes to UCF’s diversity and effort to build an inclusive culture.

Q: How is UCF finding ways to make college affordable for minorities and other under-served populations?

A: We continue to hold our tuition and fees at very affordable rates and are listed in US News and World Report’s Top 50 most affordable in the nation. We have regional campuses that allow working students to pursue degrees in their own communities.

Q: How hard does the university work to bring in diverse populations?

A: UCF has grown to the largest undergraduate institution in the country by making college affordable, accessible and a rewarding experience. We have grown our student services for under-represented populations and developed pipeline programs in local schools to encourage minority students to pursue college and professional careers. We have a Veterans Resource Center, LGBTQ+ Center, Multicultural Academic Support program, and many other initiatives to help students achieve their collegiate goals.

Q: What minority mentorship programs are in place at UCF?

A: There are many – some are college based, some offered by the Student Development and Enrollment Services Division, and one offered by our office called Legacy. Here are a few of those programs and their descriptions:

  • First Generation Program – This program assist first generation students by providing guidance and resources to promote their self-esteem, confidence and academic achievement at the University.
  • Brother to Brother Program – B2B is intended to increase the retention and graduation rates of multicultural and first generation males at UCF. Workshops, rap-sessions and social events are planned in order to help this population become academically successful.
  • Multicultural Transfer Program – Multicultural Transfer Students with a healthy entry to university life, where they can take advantage of opportunities to network and learn strategies that will help alleviate the cultural stress of acclimating to a new environment.
  • Knight Alliance Network – Provides Foster Care alumni students with a healthy transition to become successful students here at UCF. This program will demystify the college experience, assist you with navigating through the university landscape, and help you prepare to succeed here at UCF and anywhere thereafter.
  • College Prep Day – College Prep Day is a day dedicated to helping Multicultural and/or First Generation students better understand the steps necessary for admission into a college or university.

Q: Talk about the importance of diverse faculty members at UCF.

A: Under our new Provost we have established programs to specifically recruit minority faculty and we have just instituted a cluster faculty program that encourages interdisciplinary teams and hires. Last year UCF hired some 200 faculty and we are working to hire another 200 this year. The Provost’s office offers hiring incentives by paying the first few years’ costs of a minority faculty hire.

I’d like to thank Ms. Morrison for her time and for giving more insight on the ways diversity is helping the lives of students and faculty at the University of Central Florida. I look forward to the many great things this university will continue to do in coming years.

Have for-profit schools preyed on minorities?

Turn on your television to any local station during daytime hours, and you’re sure to see a handful of commercials touting the amazing benefits of enrolling in for-profit colleges. These idyllic spots highlight flexible classes, accelerated programs, online classes available from the comfort of home, and more. Usually the information about the particular college is delivered by a once-uneducated person turned career success – often a working dad, or single mom, whose kids are clearly proud of what the parent has accomplished. Obtaining a college education, particularly from the school mentioned, looks so easy to do.

While the description above may seem like the stuff of marketing clichés, it’s a tactic that has worked for many for-profit colleges. Targeting minorities and other non-traditional college students through commercials like these has been the bread-and-butter of for-profit schools for at least the past two decades and those tactics are just now starting to see some legal pushback.

To be clear, not all for-profit colleges are created equal. There are some that boast high graduation rates and seem to have student success at the heart of their endeavors. The very fact that these colleges exist have actually progressed the entire university system in the U.S. by pushing innovative programs, like online degrees, and showing that there truly is a large market for non-traditional college students.

Let’s not kid ourselves though. The non-profit college push is a very thinly-veiled attempt to enroll a volatile market – often the most eligible for federal loan and grant assistance.

The financial facts speak for themselves:

  • As of 2014, for-profit colleges served just 13 percent of total higher education students but received 31 percent of federal student loans due to the minority, at-risk and low-income statuses of their students. Former veterans cashing in GI Bills also attend for-profit schools at higher rates than traditional colleges.
  • The same report from the U.S. Department of Education reports that half of all students who default on their loans attend a for-profit college.

Which leads to the unavoidable question: Have non-profit colleges preyed upon at-risk students for the sake of making a quick buck?

All the right words

One of the reasons for-profit schools have seen such a surge in enrollment in the past two decades can really be pinned on the smart marketing of two words: flexibility and acceleration. For students who simply did not have the funds, nor desire to incur college debt, right after high school, for-profit schools have stepped up as a second chance, of sorts. These colleges are places where non-traditional students can continue to work and take flexible courses, many or all of which are online. Most for-profit schools also offer a faster route to degree attainment, which piques the interest of students who don’t want to dedicate years of their lives to college aspirations but are looking for a way to advance their careers. The University of Phoenix, perhaps the most recognizable name in for-profit online colleges, recently announced a new initiative to count other course work and work experience towards degree attainment. This initiative, and others like it, are designed to recruit students who don’t want to start from square one and don’t have the time to commit to a traditional college experience.

So what is wrong with either of these options? Nothing, in theory. Flexibility and accelerated degrees are a good fit for many students who otherwise could not chase any sort of college degree. Where many non-profits fail their students, however, is in charging astronomical rates and not offering enough support to keep students enrolled until graduation. In essence, these schools market well enough to get the students enrolled in courses but don’t do enough to guide them to their degrees. All the flexibility in the world can’t help a student understand a difficult concept, or learn better time/study management skills. Accelerated programs without mentorship options run the risk of burning students out, especially if they have no inspiration or focus.

It’s clear that the recent outcry for accountability for non-profit colleges is long overdue. Students deserve better than what they’ve been served by these institutions, and quite frankly, so does the entire American population. It’s time for these schools to deliver on their promise of career success for those who enroll – and that starts with student support that extends beyond recruitment.

5 trends in college diversity to look for in 2016

Student protests. Strikes by football teams. High-profile officials resigning. In 2015, equality and fair representation on college campuses saw the media spotlight and people across the nation took note. The past year set the foundation for potentially big strides in diversity, inclusion and equality on college campuses in 2016 – but only if advocates take advantage of the spotlight for good.

Take a look at five ways I think diversity can, and will, improve on college campuses in 2016:

More student input.

2015 was a pivotal year of college students being vocal about their treatment, and that of their peers, by university administration. An interesting (yet obvious) lesson emerged: Colleges that do not take the complaints of their students seriously will face the consequences.

Case in point: The University of Oklahoma versus the University of Missouri. At Oklahoma, when students publicly called out a fellow student for chanting racial slurs in an online video that went viral, the university’s president acted quickly to expel the student and speak out publicly against what the video portrayed. At the University of Missouri, however, there were months of unrest after racial slurs were allegedly used by some white students, that launched other accusations of university discrimination. It took student protests, hunger strikes, and a threatened strike by the football team before some peace among students was reached. As a result, two administrators (including university president Tim Wolfe) resigned.

Colleges have to find the balance between acting too quickly and simply appearing to not care. The University of Missouri was guilty of the latter. Expect student complaints regarding equality on campus and other student-treatment issues to be taken more seriously in 2016 and for diversity to improve as a result.

Broader definition of diversity.

Cultivating diversity on college campuses is not just about race and ethnicity. It encompasses gender, age and life stage. Colleges will continue to increase the recruitment of first-generation, LGBTQ+, non-traditional, out-of-state, and international students to create a more diverse atmosphere. This will include a more conscious effort on the part of admitting officials but will also require more targeted recruitment.

Chief Diversity Officers.

The University of Connecticut and Ithaca College made headlines in 2015 when they added a new position to their executive suite: Chief Diversity Officer. While universities have long had diversity task forces and even full-time staff members who work to improve diversity on campus, the move to add such a prominent position is promising.

As more colleges follow suit, the position needs to be more than a figurehead. An editorial for UConn’s The Daily Campus sums it up by saying:

“The hope is that these recommendations hit their mark and help increase diversity in both the student body and faculty. The effort the administration is employing is seen and appreciated. The expectation now is that these efforts are fruitful, and bring meaningful change.”

Earlier recruitment.

Colleges are realizing that if minorities, first-generation students, and other pupils who are considered at-risk are target demographics for their upcoming graduating classes, then recruitment needs to start early. Think middle school, or even earlier. Waiting until junior or senior year of high school presents the risk that the students have already ruled out the possibility of college. Guiding younger students through what it takes to get into college, from grade expectations to community service requirements, ensures that more of the students who give up on college before they have even tried get a real shot at going, and graduating.

Expect more colleges to join the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success which replaces the Common Application with a portfolio process for college acceptance that starts in 9th grade.

Data for retention.

Getting a diverse group of students on campus is just the first step in maintaining a multi-faceted population. Retention, especially among at-risk groups, is a big problem for universities. Many are turning to technology to anticipate problems and reach out to students at risk for dropping out long before they do. Virginia Commonwealth University is one example of a school reaching out to a tech consulting firm to learn more about its students and help struggling students before they withdraw.

Data is used for so many aspects of college life – expect to see more schools tapping it to recruit and maintain diverse student bodies.


What trends are hoping to see in college diversity in 2016?

Minority faculty revisited: Why is America so disproportionate?

If America is the land of opportunity, then earning a college degree is the key to really tapping the potential of that opportunity. In the last century going to college has transitioned from something reserved for the elite to something that everyday citizens can aspire to do (with enough financial aid). There’s certainly a case to be made for the need for more diversity on college campuses, but overall our nation’s university system is improving the variety of students on campus and making the experience attainable to all class levels. It’s not perfect; but there’s a push to improve.

One area where colleges and universities consistently fall short, however, is in the number of minority faculty they employ. There are not enough professors of color. There are not enough women. There are not enough who represent the LBGTQ+ community. If we truly want our student body to be diverse and feed into a diverse workplace, we need to start where those students are earning their educations.

Not an accurate representation

Compared to the general U.S. population, diversity in college faculty is much lower. This isn’t to say that all the professors are white, of European descent (though that number is high) though. A recent report from Mother Jones found that:

At some schools, like Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Princeton, there are more foreign teachers than Hispanic and black teachers combined.

So we are hiring diverse faculty members on a global stage, but not a national one. There are an estimated 41.7 Black Americans, and an estimated 54 million Hispanic ones, according to the 2010 U.S. Census numbers. That comes out to about 13.2 percent and 17 percent of the total U.S. population, respectively. To put this in perspective, there are student protests going on at Michigan public universities, demanding that 10 percent of faculty members be African American. When you take urban areas like Detroit (where 84.3 percent of the population is Black) into account, asking for 10 percent is a drop in the bucket – yet students are rallying to get the support to make it happen.

Can we change?

So the real question in all of this is not so much “is this happening?” but “what can we do to change this?” The first part is awareness which it seems we are achieving.

The second part is for schools to take on the responsibility and step up to change it. That isn’t happening on as wide a scale as it should, but there are glimmers of hope that adding more minority faculty members is on the horizon for a good number of schools. A few good examples include:

  • Brown University, which has announced that it is dedicating $100 million to look into diversity and race issues on its campus in the next decade. The faculty at the Providence campus is overwhelmingly white and male.
  • Lewis & Clark College in Oregon planned a diversity forum for December 7 after a Rwandan student reported being assaulted because of his skin color. The school’s president Barry Glasner has also said an action plan is being put in place to improve diversity in faculty and students, as well as race relations at the school.
  • The University of Connecticut plans to hire a Chief Diversity Officer who will works towards improving diversity of the student population AND of faculty and staff. UConn’s president Susan Herbst has said publicly that she was disappointed in the lack of diverse faculty members when she first arrived on campus four years ago and that UConn is severely lacking in an area where it really should shine. The trend of hiring Chief Diversity Officers is a positive one, as long as these executives are really empowered to make changes.

In the end, more minorities on college faculty only serves the benefit of everyone. It gives minority students realistic role models and gives non-minority students the chance to work with professors who may not look like them. Even the colleges themselves benefit from the added life experiences these minority faculty members bring to the table. In order to tap into the potential of a truly diverse, truly experience-rich college experience, we need to pay just as much attention to the variety in our faculty as we do to our students.

3 reasons you should care about Hispanic Serving Institutions

Hispanic Americans with dreams of a college degree face different challenges than their white, and even black, peers. For those who hold English as a second language, there are some inherent communication obstacles. For those who are first-generation Americans (or first-generation college students, or both), extra guidance is needed to keep them from feeling overwhelmed by the college journey. Every college student faces obstacles but the challenges in front of Hispanic ones are unique, and growing in importance.

Some colleges and universities have recognized these specific struggles of Hispanic students and found ways to address them. These Hispanic Serving Institutions (or HSIs) don’t just have the rhetoric in place; to qualify for this distinction, a college must consistently have a 25 percent Hispanic student population. These schools must also be non-profit and offer at least two-year degree programs. In other words, HSIs must actually work to serve the Hispanic students they recruit, and not prey upon them.

As HSIs grow in number (in 2013, there were 431), it’s important for all college educators to realize the effect these schools will have on everyone else and why we should embrace Hispanic-friendly college policies.

Hispanic higher education impacts us all.

The U.S. Census reports that by 2060, the number of Hispanic Americans will reach 31 percent of the general population. That’s nearly a third of Americans who will work, study, spend money and live within our borders. Earning a college education for Hispanic students will in turn raise the quality of life for the rest of us, too. On a global scale, America could take a big hit in advancements and innovations if one-third of its population was not educated on a higher level (or even one-tenth of it). The colleges and universities that will succeed in recruiting and graduating large numbers of Hispanic students are the ones that recognize the extreme importance of doing such a thing. This is a not a charity case or a trend in college education. Creating pathways for Hispanic students to go to college and earn their degrees is SMART for the country as a whole.

We can learn, too.

When approaching the best ways to serve and educate Hispanic college students, it’s important to avoid an assimilation stance. Yes, there is a lot these students can learn from our traditional college canon, but there is so much we can learn from them too. This is true for Hispanic students as well as faculty members. As a greater college community, we should recognize that from an educational standpoint, increasing the number of Hispanic students who study on our campuses and graduate with our degrees will expand our own knowledge base too. We shouldn’t only accept Hispanic students but should encourage their viewpoints and allow those to influence our policies and the things we teach.

Change starts on college campuses.

Traditionally, colleges have been recognized as progressive places. Even if the administration of a particular school isn’t forward-thinking, the students usually are. I write a lot about the progressive changes that need to be made on college campuses but not because I think they are failing. I think college campuses hold the most potential of any type of entity to stimulate positive change. That potential is what pushes me to speak out when I think we could be doing more – as administrators, as faculty members, as students.

That is especially true when it comes to turning our campuses into Hispanic Serving Institutions. Critics can argue all they want for assimilation and shout for Hispanic children to “learn English” but the truth is that we all lose a little with that mentality. Colleges are the jumping off points. The policies we put in place and the students who we graduate matter to the rest of the country. We are being watched, if subconsciously, to see how situations ideally should be approached. If we truly want to embrace Hispanic culture as a major part of our American story, present and future, it needs to start in our colleges and universities.

What will our college campuses look like in 2060? How will the changes we make today regarding Hispanic students positively impact America’s future?

Are Colleges Doing Enough to close the Achievement Gap?

There’s a lot of talk in P-12 learning about how exactly to best close the achievement gap, or the space that separates traditionally advantaged students with those who have historically been at-risk where academics are concerned. By the time students get to college, the emphasis shifts slightly to focus more on the diversity of who is on a university campus and less on outcomes. Without the stringent assessments that are now synonymous with the P-12 process, colleges have an easier time simply making appearances when it comes to the true success of all students on their campuses.

This isn’t to say that there is no accountability – several independent associations and often the colleges themselves release data on graduation rates, post-grad employment rates, and even the amount of debt incurred by students. Yet when it comes to truly closing the achievement gap between students from all life backgrounds, ethnicities and races, P-12 institutions seem to be held to a higher standard than their 13 – 20 counterparts. This is not only a disservice to the students, but to the American population as a whole that then misses out on enjoying the innovation, advancement and prosperity that comes with a more highly educated public.

So how can colleges step up their game when it comes to closing the achievement gap?

What’s working

It’s only been in the last decade or so that colleges have begun to recognize that different students need different guidance to reach that graduation podium. It’s why a crop of programs designed for first-generation and minority college students are flourishing across the country. These initiatives run the gamut – from recruiting these students, to providing intense mentorship programs, to partnering with community businesses for job placement. Targeting the guidance of students based on their backgrounds is vital to getting them their degrees and all of this conscientious hard work by universities is certainly making a dent when it comes to higher achievement from traditionally at-risk college students.

Overall colleges are doing a better job in recent years of providing a full career arc before students set foot on campus. This gives them an idea of what to expect when it comes to the courses they will take, the mentorship programs available, the potential for internships, and the job placement initiatives. For students who are putting their working lives on hold to obtain a college degree, a greater understanding of what that means in long-term financial terms is necessary to convince them the leap to college life is a good one.

What needs work

For all of the strides college recruiting programs have made, there is still an overarching theme that recruiting new students is an isolated process. Get the kids on campus, then move on to the next batch. In reality, recruiting should be a very small part of a larger strategy that not only brings students of varied backgrounds to campus, but sustains them until graduation. Some schools are improving in this regard, but there’s still a lot of work needed to flip this mentality from one of solitude to solidarity with other student help groups.

The need for an affordable college education is mentioned so often that it seems that we are all becoming desensitized to it. The reality is that having affordable college, not just providing loans to students, will go a long way towards helping close the achievement gap. Initiatives like providing the first two years of community college for free to qualifying students, and even student loan forgiveness programs for high-demand jobs, are a few ways that the dream of a college degree can become more accessible to minority, first-generation and other at-risk students.


There’s a reason so much attention is paid to closing the achievement gap in P-12 classrooms: a better educated public means a stronger economy, greater industry competition on a global scale, and an overall better quality of life for all citizens. It is high time colleges stepped back from their diversity plans long enough to question whether those efforts are truly doing enough to close the country’s achievement gap for life. Continued targeted guidance throughout the college process, improved recruiting, and a bigger push for affordable college are a few ways that the U.S. college and university landscape can step up its efforts for equality in higher education achievement.

Campus diversity: Are Ivy Leagues getting closer?

America has a love-hate relationship with its eight Ivy League universities. For the majority, these elite schools are seen as unattainable places, reserved for those with superhuman high school transcripts and the deep pockets to afford to attend. Graduating from one is generally viewed as writing the ticket to a comfortable life, though, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be impressed with your framed Princeton or Columbia degree.

Ivy Leagues are the butt of jokes where snobs are the punchline and often considered out of the league, in both price and performance, for the average American high schooler. Ivy Leagues are viewed as places for already-rich, white Americans to pat each other on the back on their way to acquiring even more wealth. As with most things that are generalized and over-simplified, Ivy Leagues have more complexity in student, faculty and alumni diversity than is often portrayed.

Look at our own President – a minority Harvard graduate who married another minority Harvard grad, made a name for his down-to-earth approach to politics, and went on to become the leader of the free world. Is President Obama an extreme exception, or are we missing the story of true diversity at these stereotypically elite schools?

The truth is somewhere between the extremes. With the right direction, however, Ivy Leagues could really make some headway in improving diversity on their campuses in the next half-decade and could set the example for the rest of America’s university landscape.

Smart recruitment

Ivy League schools aren’t just waiting for minority, first-generation and other disadvantaged future applicants to come to them – they are reaching out, and early. Every Ivy League school is a member of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success which offers a portfolio-type program for college admittance. This portfolio is intended to start in 9th grade and is often accompanied by guidance from university officials on high school academics and additional items that will boost their final file for consideration.

These portfolios are about more than test scores and report card grades. A “locker” portion allows room for creative work, like visual art and essays. By allowing this application system, Ivy Leagues are setting the stage for students early in their careers, giving them a better chance at earning admittance when the time comes.

It will be a few years before this portfolio system is proven to work, at Ivy Leagues and the other 70+ schools that implemented its use in 2015. The fact that these schools have pinpointed the need to approach and guide students so early in their high school careers is important though. It shows that the schools in the coalition are serious about being proactive in diverse recruitment and are willing to put in the work to make get more disadvantaged students on their campuses.

The reality stands

For all their apparent strides to be more diverse, Ivy Leagues can’t deny the facts of where they stand today. First, there is the issue of money that simply can’t be ignored. Admitting students without concern for whether they can afford the school or not is a luxury of Ivy Leagues, whose alumni giving dwarfs that of typical universities. They can afford to pay the tuition of students who could otherwise not find the money to attend, giving them an advantage when it comes to diverse recruitment.

Even with all that additional money, though, Ivy Leagues are still mainly made up of affluent students. Nationally, 38 percent of undergraduate students earn Pell grants, earmarked for students from low-income families. Only 12 percent at Yale and 13 percent at the University of Virginia received Pell grants in the 2013-2014 academic year.

It’s not all bad news though. Brown University has some promising stats when it comes to its ability to recruit and graduate more diverse students. In its class of 2019, 59 percent of Brown’s accepted students went to public schools. All 50 states are represented, along with 85 nations. Sixty-one percent will need some form of financial aid to afford Brown attendance, and 45 percent identified as African American, Latino, Asian American or Native American (which still means it is a Predominantly White Institution, but not by much).

Cornell’s class of 2019 includes 700 first-generation students, 45 percent female and 48 percent who identify themselves as students of color.

So what will the class of 2025, 2030 and beyond look like at Ivy Leagues? Will new recruitment methods finally bridge the gap between the ideal of diversity and the reality on campuses?

What do you predict will be the future of diversity at Ivy Leagues?

4 ways HBCUs can prepare students for the lack of workplace diversity

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have always been places that encourage greater diversity when it comes to higher education, both on their campuses and in the greater college landscape. From their origins as being the only places people of color could go for a college education to their role today as welcoming all students and instilling cultural awareness, HBCUs stand as models of multicultural learning at its best.

Are HBCUs doing enough to prepare their students for the real workplace, though?

The reason so many college administrators, myself included, stand firmly by the necessity of HBCUs in contemporary college education is this: HBCUs provide a heightened diversity-centric environment that is not able to be duplicated in other settings. This is why these schools are so fantastic. But is all that idealism blindsiding our students later on? Do HBCUS give students a false sense of what to expect in the real workplace? There has to be a blending of what is actually happening in the workplace with what the ideal CAN be with the right people who work for it.

So how can HBCUs promote diversity while still preparing their students for the reality of the American workplace today?

Tell the truth.

Start with the facts of the workplace reality right now, today, this moment. This is so vital to students’ understanding of what they are going to face in the workplace. Yes, diversity is increasing in most fields (thanks in part to better college recruiting and minority programs) but things like the wage gap between minorities (including women) and white men have to be addressed. It’s okay to present these facts and not have a concrete solution in place. It is the responsibility of HBCUs to let their students know what they are up against – and inspire these students to make changes when given the opportunity.

Promote leadership.

Instead of teaching our students how to work for someone else, we should be training them to be leaders. This is true in every field and in every classroom. Have a group of education students? Encourage them to take that next step and become administrators. Students in health care? Set them up to be accepted to medical school. If you have a class of students who are interested in computer science, suggest pairing it with a business or entrepreneurship double major or minor. We should show our students the path to the next level, one step above what they are hoping to achieve, so that they can become the diverse decision-makers of tomorrow’s workplace.

Teach legal rights.

Our students should know what the boundaries are in workplaces when it comes to discrimination and how to recognize unfair treatment. We need to tell them how to report it, file lawsuits and hold their employers (or potential employers) accountable. At the same time, we should be sure our students aren’t wasting too much time in their careers looking for problems. It is important to know when something is unfair, but to put energy into building up careers for their benefit too.

Empower them with knowledge.

As cheesy as it may sound, an education is everything when it comes to breaking through workplace barriers. Minorities and women have to work twice or three times as hard as their peers to earn as much respect and money in the same roles. It’s not fair, but it is a fact – at least at this point in our country’s history as an economic powerhouse. What is learned in classrooms can’t be taken away, or denied. We have to encourage our students to be lifelong learners and love knowledge for the sake of it. That excitement about learning is what will keep them ahead in their fields and help them impart that empowerment to the next generation of students.

There is no way to completely change diversity in the workplace overnight but I truly believe that HBCU graduates have the best shot at improving it significantly. As instructors and administrators, we need to make sure our students are taking the best of diversity practices with them when they leave our campuses, but not entering the American workforce completely blind to its realities. It is our responsibility to teach our students what they can expect, but also how to be the change that they want to see.

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Diverse Conversations: School Diversity Program Mirrors Workplace

Business schools around the country are thinking about ways to implement programs that increase school diversity on campus. Steve Reinemund, Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Business, instituted the Corporate Fellowship program shortly after he arrived at the school in 2008, which helped the Master of Arts (MA) in Management program achieve the same kind of diversity found in today’s workplace.

Q: What prompted you/the university to institute the Corporate Fellowship program?

A: We had several objectives: We wanted to create a program that would attract liberal arts graduates, with no prior work experience, and offer both the educational background and the vocational discernment to prepare them for successful careers in business. It’s important to know how to lead in a multicultural environment; so one priority of this program was to recruit a student body that mirrors the global marketplace in, as a start, its racial and gender makeup. Graduate business education does not typically have the representation in these two areas that the marketplace demands, so we set out to attract a diverse student population. We asked corporations to fund and sponsor students in our MA program, offering both financial and developmental support. Ten percent of the class receives a Corporate Fellows scholarship each year.

Q: What has been the impact of the program, thus far?

A: For the institution, it has helped us reach a broader network of corporations. We think that people knew about the Wake Forest School of Business, but this fellowship allowed us to tell companies more about our MA program and how it allows them to interact directly with our students.

We believe students receive a richer, fuller education and are better prepared for the challenges and sensitivities of the workplace when they are exposed to many different backgrounds and points of view, and are educated in an environment that that reflects the diversity found in the marketplace.

Q: What lessons can corporate sponsors teach these students (from underrepresented groups) that cannot be otherwise learned in a classroom?

A: The sponsors bring a real-life perspective to students and help them understand the types of situations they’re going to face in the marketplace, situations those students may not have otherwise considered. It’s an opportunity for companies to mentor these students before they enter the marketplace. I know from personal experience the benefits of having interns and establishing mentoring relationships with students: it builds a stronger bond with the students, they become more loyal, more knowledgeable and, potentially, more successful.

Q: How does this program foster networking opportunities, then further develop those professional relationships?

A: Throughout the MA program, we encourage formal and informal relationships, ranging from mock interviews to mentoring sessions, so students are prepared not only with book knowledge, but with practical knowledge about relationship-building. This varied interaction is particularly important, because many of these students have not had prior work experience.

By working with their mentors, students learn where their interests lie, how to make informed choices about where they can excel, and feel prepared to succeed when they are hired into those jobs. We address the challenges and sensitivities found in the workplace, so students are comfortable in social situations, such as business lunches, that are important to success and can leave candidates at a disadvantage if they’re underprepared.

Q: What are your application/award goals for the program?

A: In the 2009-10 academic year, we had 80 students participate in our MA in Management program. We set a goal of creating Corporate Fellowships for 10 percent of the class, and kept that steady as our MA program grew exponentially. In 2013-14 the class has increased to 140 students, 12 of whom are Corporate Fellows. Our goal for next year is 180 students; at least 18 of whom (10 percent) will be Corporate Fellows.

Q: What benefits exist for the corporate mentor, as well as his or her company, by participating in this program?

A: The mentors are investing in, and contributing to, an educational environment where the class represents the marketplace, a program we hope to see modeled elsewhere. The companies and organizations are gaining exposure to talented graduates who understand how to lead in a multicultural environment, and they’re learning about diversity and inclusion on a broader scale that applies, in many cases, to the workplace. It’s a laboratory for them.

Q: What suggestions might you have for other schools looking to create such a program?

A: We do our students a disservice if they are educated in classrooms that aren’t representative of society and the marketplace in which they’re going to lead and make a difference. The way you structure the program has to make practical sense to all participants, so there’s not one formula that would fit every program; the vision may be similar, but the execution may differ. We’ve done it with full tuition scholarships and stipends.

Every student and participating employer benefits in a program that teaches leadership in a multicultural environment. And the school clearly benefits, because this program has an impact on every other program in the School of Business. For example, in the 2013-2014 academic year, we have 12 Corporate Fellows in an MA class of 140 students. Thirty-five percent of the MA student body is African-American/Hispanic/Native American, so there are three times as many underrepresented students who are not on scholarship as those who are, and about half of our MA students are women. This is a byproduct of creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all constituents.

The diversity effort is absolutely integral to the culture and success of our business program, and the student experience is dramatically richer because of it.

Well, that concludes my interview with Dean Reinemund. I would like to thank him for taking time out of him busy schedule to speak with us.