Increasing racial and ethnic diversity among students and faculty is the goal at Fresno Pacific University—and a grant from the James Irvine Foundation will help achieve that purpose.
The three-year, $350,000 award is to help FPU:
- enroll students from underrepresented groups in proportion to regional high-school graduation rates, graduate those students at the same ratio as other students and send more of those students to graduate school.
- hire faculty and attract guest scholars from underrepresented groups.
- build a campus culture that values diversity while enhancing critical thinking.
Methods will include promoting FPU among various ethnic groups, developing enrollment targets, supporting ethnic clubs and encouraging faculty-student research, new and revamped classes and other academic projects.
Currently about 22 percent of traditional undergraduate students at FPU are Hispanic, 3.4 percent international, 3.1 percent Asian-American, 3 percent African-American, 0.9 percent American Indian. More than 27 countries and 27 Christian denominations are represented.
While the university has made progress in attracting a student body as diverse as the community it serves, there is a great need to recruit faculty of color, said Consuelo Meux, an organizer of the FPU Diversity Task Force. "It helps to give students a more realistic picture of the world they will live in," she said. "People of different backgrounds do bring different perspectives. Research shows that."
A diverse faculty will provide role models for students of color and help all students—no matter what their background—understand people of other ethnic and racial groups. "It will make FPU a more attractive, comfortable and welcoming place for everyone," Meux said.
The campus task force is made up of faculty and staff. Student organizations such as Cultural Awareness and Knowledge Enrichment (CAKE) have also been active in diversity efforts, attending and hosting conferences on the subject.
The James Irvine Foundation is an independent grant making organization dedicated to enhancing the social, economic and physical quality of life throughout California, and to enriching the state's intellectual and cultural environment. The foundation was established in 1937 by James Irvine, the pioneer whose 110,000-acre ranch in Southern California was among the largest privately owned land holdings in the state. With assets of $1.2 billion, the foundation expects to make grants of $51 million in 2003 for the people of California. For more information, please visit www.irvine.org.