NEWS

Campus diversity on the rise

Diversity at the UA is at an all-time high, meeting President Robert Shelton's goal four years ago. 


When Shelton first addressed students and faculty in 2006, he vowed to increase diversity at the UA. Based on the latest data from the UA Factbook for the 2008-09 school year, diversity is up among faculty and students.

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""(Diversity is) essential to our success,"" Shelton said. ""Just look at the world around us.""


According to the data, the 2008-09 school year saw a total of 2,351 international students, including undergraduate and graduate students – 1,419 men and 932 women.


There was an increase of more than 50 international students from the 2006-07 school year. Since that same year, enrollment for black undergraduate students increased by 150 students. Enrollment among undergraduate Hispanic students increased by 384 students. Enrollment among undergraduate Asian/Pacific


Islander students increased by 247 students. Enrollment among undergraduate American Indian/Alaskan Native students increased by 124 students. 


The numbers might not be staggering on paper, but students noticed an increase in diversity on campus. 


""I feel like the campus makes a considerable effort to be diverse,"" said Isaac Cox, a creative writing freshman. ""I see a lot of Asian people, people from Mexico and people from different ethnic backgrounds.""


Not all students agree with Cox.


Bianca Hernandez, an undeclared sophomore and a resident of Rio Rico, Ariz., which is about 60 miles south of Tucson, had a difficult time fitting in during her freshman year.


""When I first got here I felt completely out of place,"" Hernandez said. ""Now it's better, I just got used to it.""


Hernandez said she felt lost, but eventually found other Hispanic students she could relate to and adjusted to the different mixture of students.


Janel Spencer, an interdisciplinary studies sophomore, has enjoyed the UA's many diverse programs and activities. Spencer spent a semester abroad in Orvieto, Italy, and was happy to learn the UA offers an Italian Movie Night.


""I think it's very diverse,"" Spencer said. ""You get a good feel for everything.""



Shelton believes there is still work to be done to ensure the campus continues to diversify:



""In some ways we're doing well, in some ways we're doing poorly. (I believe) we're doing less well at diversifying our faculty.""



During the 2006-07 school year, there were 17 black instructional faculty members and only 20 during the 2008-09 school year. The UA has only hired 11 more Hispanic instructional faculty members since the 2006-07 school year and 21 more Asian/Pacific Islander instructional faculty members.



UA has seen a decrease in the number of American Indian/Alaskan Native and Caucasian instructional faculty members.Shelton plans to continue working on his diversification goals. He has a team dedicated to ensuring diversity among faculty, staff and students.  


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