Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ohio University: Whitest Campus in the State?

By Juli Schilling

Despite Ohio University's efforts to increase diversity with its Vision Ohio Plan and the college's many multicultural programs, OU ranks as the whitest college campus in the state, according to the Ohio Board of Regents 2007 Diversity Report. And it's not the first year for the notorious distinction. It happens to be the second year in a row that the university has ranked at the bottom of state universities for diverse student population according to the Regents.

The Breakdown
Ohio University's White, non-Hispanic population made up 87 percent of the student population in 2006 and 88 percent in 2007. Overall, Ohio colleges are actually more diverse than the state's population. The 2000 U.S. Census states that 84 percent of Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 49 are white, and the Regents' report shows that 78 percent of college students are white.

To see the 2006 Ohio Board of Regents Diversity Report online click here. The 2007 Ohio Board of Regents Diversity Report will be released Friday.

Ohio Board of Regents 2007 Diversity Report: A Glimpse at How OU Stacks Up to Other Colleges in the State

White, non-Hispanic Student Population in 2007
Ohio University- 88%
Miami University- 86%
Shawnee State University- 85%
Kent State University- 84%
Bowling Green University- 82%
Ohio State University- 79%
University of Akron- 79%
University of Cincinnati- 76%
Wright State University- 76%
Youngstown State University- 75%
University of Toledo- 74%
Cleveland State University- 61%
Central State University- 2%
All University Main Campuses- 78%

International Students Left Out
"There could be a lot of different factors that explain the drop," said Dean of University College David Descutner. "The drop is pretty insignificant on the whole." Why's that? One reason that could have contributed to the two percent drop is that the Regents' report left international students out of its calculations, even though international students are included in OU's definition of diversity. Last year alone, Ohio University had a 13 percent increase in international students.

Dean of University College David Descutner talks about Ohio University's definition of diversity.

However, Descutner says he's "very encouraged" for the next academic year because applications for multicultural students are up by more than 300 for next year, and applications for African Americans are up by 200.

"I think we have the makings of a really strong diverse class that we're going to be very proud of," said Descutner.

Faculty Diversity
The dean says we still have a long way to go, but it's not just about students. More focus needs to be on recruiting and retaining diversity within the faculty and staff as well, he says.

"We also have to dedicate ourselves as a campus to recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff, and that's going to take a real commitment on the part of everyone at the university," said Descutner.

Dean of University College David Descutner talks about institutional changes that will help recruit and retain OU faculty.

A Student Point of View
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said in October that diversity across state colleges was a major priority for his administration, but critics say the administration has not acted or produced results to meet its goal. One minority graduate student says he thinks both the university and the governor's office ignore people like him and other minorities. Tony Mill has a graduate assistantship in the College of Education, and works with minority programs on campus. He's a first generation college student from Appalachia, and he says that because of his light skin color he and others like him don't get the same attention that other minorities do.

Graduate student Tony Mill talks about the lack of opportunity the Appalachian community has within Ohio's education system.

Mill's goal is to develop outreach, and he says that Ohio University has a lot of potential to do this.

"You hear a lot of the people saying they feel uncomfortable in the area, because the lack of African Americans in the community, but they're out there. We're just segregated in different townships and in different areas within Appalachia," Mill said.

The Minority that Suffers the Most
Black men have the worst statistics for university enrollment and for graduation. The U.S. Department of Education says that only one-third of black students who are enrolled in college are men.

Related Links
OU's Diversity Homepage
Ohio University Multicultural Center
Ohio University International Focus
Appalachian Ohio
Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development

No comments: