Report of the Residential College Commission
|Black||33 (2.7)||40 (3.4)||42 (3.8)||31 (2.6)||38 (3.4)|
|Hispanic||5 (0.4)||8 (0.7)||12 (1.1)||16 (1.3)||20 (1.8)|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||29 (2.4)||35 (3.0)||36 (3.2)||42 (3.5)||37 (3.3)|
|Native American||0||1||1||0||10 (0.9)|
|Non-Resident Alien||NA||14 (1.2)||10 (0.9)||14 (1.2)||43 (3.8)|
Despite these less than impressive numerical trends, the University of Rochester entered a new era marked by increased sensitivity to the needs and concerns of minority students, faculty and staff when Richard D. O'Brien became Provost in the summer of 1978. O'Brien made it clear from the beginning of his administrative tenure that in his judgment the University had to make significant new efforts and renewed commitments. "We are determined to increase the black presence at the University," he stated, "[so that we can achieve a situation where] blacks do not find themselves vastly outnumbered and where the viewpoints and cultures of minority and majority students can contribute to each other most effectively." He announced to the Faculty Senate on October 16, 1979 that he had formed a Council for Minority Education "made up primarily of the Associate Deans of the various colleges, Mr. Jefferson from the Office of Special Student Services, and Mr. France (because of his involvement with affirmative action action at the faculty hiring level) to examine the whole question of our stance with respect to minorities as students or as faculty."
Provost O'Brien took other initiatives as well: a Task Force on Affirmative Action formed in December, 1981; closer working relationships with black students in the Black Students Union, as members of the Provost's Undergraduate Council, and in several other organizational contexts; an Alumni Committee on Minority Enrollment which helped form a close working relationship with the Urban League and led to the creation of twenty special scholarships to help shift minority student recruitment from a New York State to a national basis and from "disadvantaged" to "highly qualified" status; a "Shared Resources Project" led by Dean of Students Peter Kountz which involved four professional staff of the Office of Special Student Services working for portions of each week in the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid, Academic Advising, and Career Services and Placement; a summer program for undergraduate minority students to work in biological laboratories in the Medical School and in the College of Arts and Science. Perhaps most important, in 1981 O'Brien helped recruit an outstanding black alumnus as a high ranking University officer, Bernard Gifford as Vice President for Student Affairs.
Gifford had been a graduate student in Biophysics at the University in the late sixties and early seventies, but while earning his doctorate he had also been active in black affairs both on campus and in the greater Rochester community. He was, in fact, involved with the Black Students Union and with the highly visible and effective FIGHT organization. In the seventies he won a postdoctoral fellowship to study public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, worked as a RAND consultant to the City of New York, and served as Deputy Chancellor of New York City's Board of Education. Calling Gifford's return to Rochester "a very promising addition to our community," Provost O'Brien looked to the new Vice President to provide significant leadership for the University's initiatives in minority affairs.
Gifford exercised leadership in several key areas. He recruited additional minority staff, as when he appointed Marion Walker, an African American UR alumnus from the class of 1974, to a new position as Director of Minority Affairs. He carefully studied minority student academic performance and designed a "Minority Peer Counseling Program" to help students make the academic and social adjustments necessary for success at the University. He also worked with Admissions to create a Frederick Douglass Scholar Program (deliberately parallel to the prestigious Joseph C. Wilson Scholar Program) to target "a select group of high performance minority students." In a September, 1982 presentation to the Faculty Senate, Gifford justified his emphasis on diversity in student recruitment on both bluntly pragmatic and highly principled grounds: "If one takes a hard look at demographic trends in areas from which we recruit most of our students, the numbers are quite scary. The number of white middle class high school seniors is falling at a precipitous rate. Unless the University is more successful in recruiting talented non-white students, the future is bleak. ... [in addition] diversity is a self-contained benefit ... [it] produces a healthier intellectual atmosphere for the entire University community, and is an objective worthy of our best efforts."
Gifford's most important leadership effort was his work on a major "Study of Race Relations at the University of Rochester," begun in 1982 and completed in March, 1983. Modelled on a study done a few years earlier at Harvard, the Race Relations project was based on a rigorous sampling of student opinion -- of all 331 minority students (Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American) and 35% of white undergraduates. The 53-page study (plus tables and appendices) demonstrated quantitatively what had previously been known only through high profile and high intensity anecdotal evidence: that considerable tension existed on campus between minority and non-minority students, particularly between black and white undergraduates. The study also focused on certain root causes of this tension: the overwhelming majority of white students came from neighborhoods and high schools that were predominantly white while 50-75% of Blacks and Hispanics came from predominantly minority neighborhoods and high schools. The study concluded:
... minority and non-minority freshmen may need an initial period for adjusting to each other. We suggest that the University take steps to aid in this adjustment. These steps could include promoting interracial interaction during freshman orientation and during the first few weeks of classes ... Resident advisors may be particularly useful for this purpose: we therefore recommend that they receive training in skills and techniques for promoting interracial interaction. Minority resident advisors may be particularly useful as role models for both minority and White freshmen; we therefore recommend that their number be increased.; Other recommendations included the following:
-- "the University offer a greater variety of minority-related courses ...strongly recommended as part of a well-rounded education"
--the University "strongly reassert" its commitment to the goal of increased numbers of minority faculty and "make public its efforts to recruit minority faculty"
--efforts be made "to induce more minority students to join traditional organizations ... in particular ... the editorial staff of the student newspaper ... as one means of promoting the concerns of minority students within traditional channels"
--education "via workshops, pamphlets, etc. and increased interracial interactions" used for "dispelling stereotypes and defensiveness"
--the number of minority students attending the University be increased
--information about the number of minority students be made more readily available, for example, by printing the actual numbers in the student newspaper, to "help correct a demonstrated tendency by students of all racial groups to overestimate the number of minorities attending the University... [and to] serve as evidence of efforts by the University to increase the size of the minority student population"
The ultimate goal of the Race Relations study, as Gifford stated it quite forthrightly in his Preface, was as follows: "Our obligation is clear: all students, whatever their race, must feel welcome at the University of Rochester. That is the right and moral goal to strive for. We cannot be satisfied with anything less."
Although Gifford left the University after only a few years to become Dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley and O'Brien left to become Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, many of their initiatives were continued and expanded in the next Rochester administration, that of President Dennis O'Brien. Indeed, after a period of some turbulence in the University and the community, in the summer of 1984, Dennis O'Brien publicly launched his administration with a strong commitment to improving minority status and minority relations at the University. He appointed a 17-member "Community Relations Committee" consisting of representatives of the black community, alumni, student groups, UR administrators, and UR faculty and charged it to consider: African American studies; recruitment of minority faculty, staff, and students; support services; security services; and student judicial procedures. During the fall of 1984, the committee generated and refined specific recommendations for the first four areas of concern; these were published in Currents on March 15, 1985 along with an unprecedented joint statement of consensus by O'Brien and community leader James McCuller.
Among the recommendations enthusiastically accepted by O'Brien were: establishing and staffing the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies; preparing and publishing a new affirmative action plan and agreeing to oversee its implementation through a University affirmative action review board working in conjunction with a community advisory group; appointing a significant number of new minority faculty, staff and administrative personnel, including a special Assistant to the President to evaluate and coordinate University-wide support services for minority students; creating a student security advisory committee to work closely with the Security and Traffic Division in efforts to improve officer recruitment, training and evaluation. A memorandum from the community-based "African-American Education Oversight Commission" published in the same issue of Currents endorsed O'Brien's efforts:
Since you began your tenure as President in July, 1984 you have begun to marshalresources of a capable staff to focus on African-American problems and needs. Your openness and reasonable frankness to discuss what was previously viewedas provocative and explosive African-American issues in a non-defensive and non-adversarial style gives us reason to be encouraged that we can and will make progress on other critical issues.
In the spirit of these agreements and endorsements, O'Brien appointed as his Vice President for Enrollments, Placement, and Alumni Affairs an admissions dean from Cornell, James J. Scannell, known for his strong commitment to minority student recruitment and retention. Scannell began in November 1984, and when O'Brien formally introduced him to the Faculty Senate on February 19, 1985 he clearly indicated his priorities by noting his surprise at discovering that so few minority students were actually in the University's applicant pool. Making them a "target group," Scannell devoted considerable effort over the next several years to expanding the number of minority applicants and their enrollment "yield." By September, 1988 it was clear that his efforts had paid off; for the first time in its history, the University admitted a freshman class with over 100 minority students, 10.2% of that year's unusually large cohort. The percentage of minority students remained above 10% in the next two freshman cohorts. At the same time, the number of entering Asian students grew slowly but steadily from 6.3% of the freshman cohort in 1986 to 9.6% in 1990, while foreign students hovered around 4%. An admissions profile for these years is presented in the table below.
|Black||53 (4.5)||40 (3.6)||78 (5.9)||65 (5.8)||69 (6.2)|
|Hispanic||34 (2.9)||15 (1.3)||57 (4.3)||57 (4.2)||47 (4.2)|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||74 (6.3)||79 (7.0)||88 (6.7)||87 (7.7)||107 (9.6)|
|Foreign||45 (3.8)||5 (0.4)||40 (3.0)||21 (1.9)||47 (4.2)|
Another priority of the O'Brien administration was the creation and build up of the Frederick Douglass Institute. This required the commitment of resources, both from within the University budget and from outside agencies such as the Ford Foundation, which awarded a five-year, $300,000 grant in 1989. The Institute first appeared on the pages of the Official Bulletin for 1986-1987; a simple entry announced that "The Institute, which will sponsor programs of teaching and research at the undergraduate level, is expected within three years to include the equivalent of five full-time faculty." An expanded entry in 1987-1988 listed Karen Fields as Director and Elias Mandala (History), Jesse Moore (History) and Deborah Mullen (Student Affairs) as "Associates and Faculty." The Bulletin for 1988-1989 added Joseph Inikori (History) as "Visiting Professor." In 1989-1990 Inikori is listed as a full professor and associate director of the Institute, Ben Ebenhack (Chemical Engineering) is added to the faculty list, and, for the first time, the Bulletin describes two dozen Institute-sponsored and cross-listed courses. Among the new courses were: "The Black Family in Historical Perspective," "The Atlantic Slave Trade and Africa, 1650-1850," and "Black Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Twentieth Century." The growth of the Frederick Douglass Institute thus contributed an important new field of intellectual activity to the University's academic life, helped add a minority presence to the faculty, and no doubt contributed positively to minority student recruitment efforts.
In yet another area -- co-curricular life -- the University was witness to developments to which it could point with pride. This was the largely spontaneous proliferation of student organizations reflecting various racial, ethnic, national, religious, sexual and other identities. Already in 1987 the University could boast of the following long list of diverse groups: ADITI (students promoting the culture of the Indian subcontinent); Alpha Phi Alpha (a black Greek organization); Asian American Association; Association for Black Drama and the Arts; Association of Minority Engineers; Black Students' Union; Chinese Students' Association; Gospel Choir; Hillel; International Association; Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship; Korean Students' Association; Spanish and Latin Students' Association; Women's Caucus. Reflecting a continually broadening sense of diversity, by 1990 the list also included: Against the Current (a women's group); Alpha Kappa Alpha (another black Greek organization); Black and Hispanic Women's Alliance; Charles Drew Premedical Society; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Friends Association; the Vietnamese Student Association. The rapid growth of student organizations in the late eighties is clearly recorded in successive issues of the Interpres yearbook and, to some extent, in the Official Bulletin.
The multiplication of organizations was closely advised and supported by the University's Student Affairs staff in the Student Activities Office and by Minority Student Affairs. In addition, the Dean of Students' office worked with the College's Center for Academic Support to create a climate for diversity by arranging each year for speakers like Coretta Scott King, who addressed students during freshman orientation in 1984. Moreover, in the late eighties the Student Affairs staff, in conjunction with the College, developed "Focus" programs for freshmen built around student- and staff-led groups which worked through case studies designed to educate entering students about diversity and each other. At the same time, they also put together the Human Relations Advocates, a multicultural group trained to lead discussions in residential areas on issues of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. This intense effort to increase inter-group understanding was in addition to trying to provide activity fairs for freshmen (to promote the wide array of campus organizations), assure new dietary options to accommodate the special needs of diverse groups in the dining services, arrange new worship space for Muslim students, guarantee services for students with physical and learning disabilities, provide workshops on date rape in fraternity houses and in the dormitories, develop space where women athletes would feel comfortable working out, and encourage the representative inclusion of a broadly diverse group of students on campus judicial boards, orientation staffs, and in residential life positions. Student Affairs staff understood that it was important to reflect and respond to the growing diversity of the student population on campus. It is no wonder that they often felt strained to their limits as they tried to facilitate positive changes in the campus environment while working under the extreme and increasing constraints of a limited budget and while struggling to "catch up" with the transformation in student culture that was the inevitable result of dramatic changes in student demographics.
There were other indications of strain and disaffection among University staff in the late eighties and none were clearer than those expressed by members of the minority faculty and staff community. Perhaps the clearest was a document signed by Karen Fields, Deborah Mullen and several others, entitled "Towards the Future of Minority Student Affairs: A Discussion Paper." The authors note that twenty years earlier, in 1969, the Black Students Union occupied the Faculty Club in order to get the University to address their legitimate concerns. In 1989, parallel feelings of frustration were still common. Of greatest immediate concern was the administration's handling of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. The essential responsibility for minority students had since 1973 been in the hands of Frederick Jefferson, who a few years later also assumed oversight of international students and special support services. In 1986 Jefferson moved to the President's Office in fulfillment of Dennis O'Brien's 1985 pledge to appoint an African American special assistant. In the wake of Jefferson's elevation and the reassignment of administrative responsibility for international students and special support services, the University also created a new office Office of Minority Student Affairs/Higher Education Opportunity Program under the aegis of the Division of Student Affairs. This new office was to be led by an individual holding the joint title of Associate Dean of Student Affairs/Director of Minority Student Affairs (Deborah Mullen from 1987 to 1989), who was in turn to oversee an Associate Director of Minority Student Affairs for Student Services and an Associate Director of Minority Affairs for HEOP.
Because these administrative arrangements were fundamentally similar to those under Jefferson (who had reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs), no questions were raised initially about their adequacy or appropriateness. Minority faculty and staff came to feel, however, that problems were built into an administrative structure which consigned Minority Student Affairs to the non-academic jurisdiction of Student Affairs, long separated from the academic side of undergraduate education and student services. As the "Discussion Paper" put it,
In general, the purpose of these programs and services [of the Office of Minority Student Affairs] has been to enhance the retention and achievement of African- American, Hispanic and Native American students at the University. Because the
Office has been charged with the retention of minority students as its primary concern, the definition, design, and delivery of services must encompass academic and developmental dimensions of student life. The Student Affairs Division at the University of Rochester, by and large, has a non-academic mission, and it is not traditionally viewed ... as an appropriate partner in the delivery of academically- oriented programs and services. Therefore, this mandate of the Office of Minority Student Affairs presents a challenge to the traditional configuration of things. And the challenge to OMSA has been to build bridges that enable it to fulfill its dual mandate.
OMSA did try to build bridges under Deborah Mullen's leadership -- with Academic Advising, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the faculty directly. But in 1989 these bridges seemed inadequate.
Despite important advances in interdepartmental collaboration, we continue to be concerned that these have not yet gone far enough. There does not yet exist a centralized and comprehensive approach to the delivery of support services for students most at risk for failure ... What is missing is a comprehensive system for doing what we know needs to be done -- and an administrative location that can maximize its effectiveness. We suggest that such a system would be housed most appropriately in the College of Arts and Science, and that this move should become a priority among the strategies for enhancing the achievement and retention of underrepresented minority students.
Two other concerns raised in the "Discussion Paper" and poignantly conveyed through a series of "vignettes" were deeply ingrained racial biases and huge gaps in understanding the real needs and experiences of minority students. The following vignettes illustrated biases and blindspots, in these cases on the part of faculty.
[from an adminstrator colleague] A woman reported taking a course on American women that ignored women of color. Her acerbic comment: "Why wasn't it called what it was, 'American white women'?"
[from a staff colleague] A young man rushed into my office after a class, infuriated by remarks made there by his teacher to the class as a whole, to this effect: "I don't know how long we can keep paying for black and Hispanic teen-agers to keep on having more and more babies." When I asked whether he had responded to the point in class, he said he had not. When I asked why he did not, he said he had felt intimidated.
Two additional vignettes illustrated gaps between minority student experience and mainstream comprehension.
[from a faculty colleague] "I know I could do better," said a young man. "But I work twenty hours on campus, plus I have a week-end job -- I send some money home, and I can't get the time to go for tutoring."
[from an administrator colleague] A woman student reported a sometimes hot argument when she and a group of women of color tried to fund (through student programming) a project that involved work with teen-age girls in the community. Some of the students reviewing the project pointed out that (unlike inviting speakers, for example), this idea didn't seem to fall under the guidelines for students' educational activities.
If the authors of the "Discussion Paper" were correct -- and there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the reported vignettes or their implications -- then the University still had a long way to go to achieve a truly tolerant and integrated community and an environment that really welcomed all members of its increasingly diverse student body. Proclamations by President O'Brien, administrative reorganization of Minority Student Affairs, and the dedicated efforts of the Division of Student Affairs had been, at best, only partially successful in transforming the internal environment of the University. One major, persisting problem was structural: Student Affairs, and now OMSA as part of it, were separated from the curricular and academic sides of undergraduate life, instead being compartmentalized into "support services" and non-academic "human relations" programming. The Frederick Douglass Institute was just getting started and therefore of only limited effectiveness. It also had a major academic mission to accomplish. Minority faculty and staff were too few in number to facilitate major changes by their efforts alone. As the "Discussion Paper" put the problem,
There is an urgent need to enhance the cultural sensitivity of all students and to increase their sophistication about the diverse human world in which they will live out their lives. Consciously accommodating diversity should also be the business of faculty, administrators, staff members, and service persons -- and of all adminstrative units. It should not be left to OMSA, the Frederick Douglass Institute, the International Student Office, and the Office of University and Community Affairs. ... The issues surrounding diversity and multicultural community are far too complex for any one office or set of offices alone.
It seems clear that a considerable distance separated campus realities in the late eighties from the vision projected by Bernard Gifford in 1983 -- of a university energetically and imaginatively committed to institution-wide and proactive efforts to improve "interracial interaction," reinforced by broad changes in the curriculum. The sad irony was that in the early eighties the University of Rochester could have been a leader among colleges and universities, but as "diversity" moved forward on the national higher educational agenda at the turn of the nineties the institution seemed to stutter and falter, encumbered by its loosely connected internal structures and bureaucratic organization.
The nineties, in fact, marked a turning point with regard to diversity at the University of Rochester, in a largely negative direction. Earlier enthusiasm tended to fade, and what was once an unambivalent sense of institutional or, at least, central administrative mission became rather fuzzy and diffuse. The root cause was not so much a change of heart as the emergence of deeply troubling financial preoccupations. As these concerns grew larger and increasingly central, other institutional priorities shifted out of focus.
The first major financial problem to emerge in the nineties was the tuition "discount rate," an issue which had direct bearing on admissions and therefore undergraduate diversity goals. The discount rate refers to the amount of tuition revenue not actually collected but "given back" to students as financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants measured as a percentage of tuition (loans and work-study awards are exempted from discount calculations). In 1984 and 1985 the discount rates for the incoming freshman class were 25.9% and 29.5%, respectively, meaning that in those years net tuition revenue was only 74.1 and 70.5 cents on the dollar collected. The discount rate crept upwards in the later eighties, until it was 30.9% in 1989. Then for the freshman class entering the University in fall 1990, it suddenly spiked more than ten percentage points to 41.0%. In 1991 it dipped only slightly to 39.5%. Successive years with these high discount rates were, understandably, cause for great alarm. President O'Brien's remarks to the Faculty Senate in November, 1990 vividly captures the University's level of anxiety.
Our net tuition is about sixty-five cents on the dollar ... That is ... we have to take thirty to thirty-five cents out of every undergraduate tuition dollar and convert that into financial aid. ... Cornell is very concerned about the level of their financial aid transfer, or their net tuition and they are funding at sixteen cents. ... Their trustees are thinking that they ought to freeze the level of financial aid subvention from general revenue at about sixteen percent or some such figure. ... Not only are we over twice that at the present time, but in the entering undergraduate freshman class this year, the discount rate was forty cents on the dollar so we only got sixty cents net tuition revenue. That's a very serious problem. ... if the experience of this year turns out to be the typical experience, then over a five-year period you're going to build yourself a problem somewhere between eight, nine, or ten million dollars over current budget shortfalls. That is a major, major issue for the institution.
According to Enrollments Vice President Scannell's analysis, the largest single cause of the growth in the discount rate was the smaller number of high school graduates nationwide and the resulting intensification in competition for students in the increasingly tight admissions market. Since the University still drew the largest share of its students from New York State, the growth of the SUNY system with its very low tuition was an additional source of concern. The UR had to offer more in financial aid and to dip more deeply into the lower levels of its applicant pool in order to fill its freshman classes. These strategies resulted in higher aggregate discount rates and lower "quality" as measured by mean SAT scores. While the largest share of financial aid went to non-minority students and although non-minority students also recorded many of the lowest SAT scores, minority students now became a decidedly less attractive target for aggressive recruitment in the eyes of some. An interchange reflecting rapidly altering perceptions was recorded in the Faculty Senate minutes for January 22, 1991.
Professor X: The University has committed itself to supporting minority education.
Professor X: And here financial aid at a very high level is essential. Can the University afford to continue that commitment?
It is thus unsurprising that in their 1990, 1991 and 1992 reports to the Faculty Senate, University admissions officials were more reticent than usual about the number of African American and Hispanic students in the freshman cohort, especially in striking contrast to their triumphal announcements in the late eighties of greater than 10% minority students per entering class. Instead, Admissions shifted its focus in several different ways, for example, to the aggressive recruitment of transfer students. Admissions also concentrated on international students, for these rather explicit reasons.
[Scannell to Faculty Senate, September 24, 1991]: ... in the makeup of this year's class ... we doubled the number of international students ... That was deliberate. We have never been terribly aggresssive in pursuing international students. ... what we did was pay much more attention to them during the process of applying and it paid off. They also come at a lesser rate needing financial assistance -- 45% ... receiving some institutional funds versus our 66% for U.S. citizens. ... We've been at about 5% of the freshman class being nternational. This year we're at 10%. We think ... that the right place for us would be closer to 15% than to 10%.
Over the next several years, the following patterns emerged.
|Black||66 (5.4)||61 (4.8)||90 (7.3)||118 (9.6)||101 (8.4)|
|Hispanic||42 (3.5)||47 (3.7)||52 (4.2)||71 (5.8)||62 (5.1)|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||143 (11.8)||120 (9.5)||126 (10.2)||142 (11.5)||134 (11.1)|
|Foreign||98 (8.1)||103 (8.1)||71 (5.8)||68 (5.5)||52 (4.3)|
It is clear from these data that after the marked dip in minority student entrants in 1991 and 1992, their numbers rose again from 1993 to 1995. Foreign students showed a reverse pattern while Asian/Pacific Islanders held fairly steady. Despite these numbers, Scannell and his staff rarely publicy enthused about "diversity." Scannell ocasionally reviewed old affirmative action goals and procedures, and in November, 1993, Enrollments Associate Vice President Kathy Kurz boasted that "the University of Rochester is probably close to the most diverse university in the country, if not The most diverse." Kurz's statement, however, was most notable for its distinctiveness. Scannell made no such global statements in his frequent reports to the Faculty Senate in these years, and he instead focused primarily on efforts aimed at filling the freshman class, decreasing discount rates and raising SAT scores. Diversity in undergraduate admissions was no longer unambivalently proclaimed as an unquestionably accepted social goal and educational objective because it now seemed like one of the problems contributing to the University's financial difficulties.
Another closely related financial problem also emerged in these same years, and it too had implications for diversity. This was the problem of excessive "draw on the endowment" and the need to fix it with a forceful "rampdown." This problem was, of course, coupled with the escalating discount rate, because declining net undergraduate tuition revenue meant that the University had to expend endowment funds at a higher rate than usual in order to keep the budget in balance. Other circumstances likewise contributed to a sense of financial emergency: cuts in Federal and State financial aid (which were directly connected to the rising discount rate), difficulties with indirect cost recovery on Federal research grants, poor endowment performance, and a disappointing collection of gift revenue because of a recessionary economy. These problems, especially because they all seemed to intensify at one time, added their share to the University's financial woes. But whatever the mix of causes, the central administration's attention kept circling back to "ramping down" the annual draw on the endowment from 7.6% to 6.0% or perhaps even 5.0%.
The University trustees also took an active role in "ramp down" analysis and strategy discussion. Indeed, there is evidence in the Faculty Senate minutes to suggest that the trustees probably initiated preoccupation with the excessive draw on the endowment and promoted a sense of urgency about the need to solve this problem. It is also clear from the minutes that in the early nineties it became common practice for the Chair of the Board of Trustees to appear regularly at the Senate, to participate there in wide-ranging conversations about the University's budget options along with key administrators and members of the Faculty Senate Budget Committee. The basic message emerging from these intense and high level conversations was that the University had hit hard economic times and that academic budgets, if not severely cut or frozen, would be essentially flat for the foreseeable future. Hard economic times thus had implications for faculty and staff benefits, annual salaries, and replacement or new hiring decisions.
Hard economic times had an even more dramatic impact on Student Affairs and this, in turn, had an important negative affect on the University's diversity efforts. Beginning in the late eighties, Student Affairs lost significant numbers of staff; as one indicator, in the Dean of Students Office alone the annual budget dropped from $218,126 in 1988 to $136,810 in 1994. These economic realities lurk as a bitter irony behind a March 17, 1992 Student Affairs presentation to the Faculty Senate, part of which touched on proactive efforts then underway to foster inter-group understanding in the new student culture. The Director of Greek Affairs reported as follows.
There are many students of color that are involved in the predominately white Greek system. I make that distinction because we do have an all-black Greek council, predominately African-American fraternities on the campus. We are encouraging the students, though, to recruit from different groups of students, obviously international students. We have hardly any international students become interested in the fraternities and sororities on the campus. They have no concept of it, but that's something that we are encouraging the students to become involved in.
Given the serious budget cuts Student Affairs had to sustain, active "encouragement" of this sort -- promoting what Gifford had earlier called "interracial interaction" -- would have to be scaled-back or eliminated if surviving staff were to keep basic operations going.
The University's budget problems seem to have had a major and negative impact on another front too: producing very limited enthusiasm for minority faculty recruitment efforts, one of O'Brien's major pledges in 1985. Evidence for this comes from the report of Professor Morris Eaves' Ad Hoc Committee on Minority Issues, which had been proposed by O'Brien and established by the Faculty Senate in 1990. The Eaves Committee spent close to two years looking into the local situation and comparing the University of Rochester to other major universities in the country. The committee's conclusions were devastating.
... in recent years the University of Rochester has made almost no progress in creating the more diverse faculty that will be needed to serve its more diverse student body. We cannot appeal to the similarity between our lamentable situation and the situation at peer institutions, because in fact we rank with the hindmost in every survey that we have examined. ... Reasons for our lackluster performance are numerous, but all point to the absence of sustained commitment and coherent remedies. ... our publicly articulated policies, in so far as we have any, are particularly muddled, and our collective performance, insofar as there has been any, has been particularly poor.
Backing up these judgments were such data as these: in 1991 the percentage of minority faculty (including Asians) in tenured ranks at the University of Rochester was 4.1%, whereas at the eighteen other major universities surveyed it ranged from a low of 5.7% to a high of 11.0%; in the same year the percentage of "tenure eligible" faculty was 9.2% for UR compared to a low of 8.2% and a high of 24.5% at the eighteen other universities. Equally important, the UR numbers in 1991 represented very slight increases from what they were in 1985 when Dennis O'Brien, in concert with the African-American Education Oversight Commission, proclaimed UR's strong commitment to affirmative action hiring procedures.
According to the Eaves committee, between 1985 and 1991 the University of Rochester had lost its will and its way. The Affirmative Action Review Board supposedly created in the mid-eighties no longer existed in the early nineties (if it ever had), and the "plan," in the words of the Eaves committee, "turned out to be empty oratory." Specifically, "the general lack of concern and sustained commitment are reflected in a host of other lacks: a lack of clear policies, a lack of attractive, well-articulated incentives, a lack of meaningful oversight, and a lack of well-established, well-integrated administrative mechanisms." For remedies, the Eaves committee urged the Faculty Senate, the President and central administration, deans and directors, department chairs and individual faculty to give minority faculty recruitment and retention "immediate attention" and "highest priority." The University should "announce its commitment to an aggressive set of remedies" which should be backed by "systematic oversight and clearly articulated, effective incentives." In short, at every level of the University "there must be powerful, persistent commitment expressed in concrete actions."
But instead of this response, the report got a distressingly cool, indeed substantially hostile reception from the Faculty Senate. Discussed and debated at four Senate meetings -- in April, September, October and November, 1992 -- the report drew fire for its overly narrow and perhaps illegal definition of "diversity," for its urging the University to invest increasingly scarce resources on fishing for minority faculty in a shallow or nonexistent pool of talent, and for both fomenting racial and ethnic conflict and purveying "high-minded, liberal bourgeois crap." Most chilling was the attack by a high-ranking, prestigious engineer-administrator, head of one of the University's applied science laboratories.
... the tone of ... [the report] seemed to be extremely confused and the sorts of statistics presented raise more questions than they answer. ... There are all sorts of ways of looking at these numbers, but just to come up with a few tables that say, "Well, we're not doing very well and this is terribly lamentable," as if we have some type of problem and then advocate severe remedies -- and I remind people that that will be at the expense of something -- we are in a zero-sum game around here. ... is missing in this report. It seems like a gallimaufry of ideas thrown together and then concluding with a phrase saying, "Ain't it awful. Throw money at it. Fix it."
O'Brien and several faculty members gallantly defended the general goals and specific recommendations of the Eaves committee report, but when a vote was finally taken after much objection and delay, the resolution that passed was, in the words of a strong Eaves supporter, "very bland." O'Brien himself commented after that largely symbolic vote, "Now comes the hard part. ... Passing the motion was the easy part." He tried his best to salvage something from the discussion by directing attention to the work of Jesse Moore, newly appointed University Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, who had succeeded in getting U.S. Department of Education Ronald E. McNair funds to help increase the University's pool of minority graduate students. When the issue of minority recruitment was revisited in January, 1994, Eaves briefly presented data indicating embarrassingly paltry progress in the faculty ranks, while Moore took the opportunity to present far more extensive data on the University's efforts to recruit minority graduate students. But Eaves' remarks struck home most forcefully. First noting that the figures for faculty had not changed much in two years because "there hasn't been a lot of hiring from then to now," he commented:
... one of the commonest responses, sort of instinctive responses I think, to complaints about minority figures in hiring faculty is that the pipeline is going to make it all better in the long run. It's quite clear that the long run is going to be the very long run if things go on this way. In fact, if it goes on this way, in another ten years, if the pattern persists, we'll be down another hundred or so recipients of doctorates by African-Americans and the pipeline will hardly exist at all. As far as I can tell, there's very little reason to rely on any increases in the pipeline at this point that will just naturally produce improvements in the numbers for faculty.
The upshot of all this was that by early 1994, when "diversity" was gaining momentum nationally, the situation at the University of Rochester looked even less promising than it had in 1990/1991 when the "discount" issue first hit in major way or in 1992 when commitment to minority faculty recruitment failed to achieve a clear consensus. The UR community did not even respond positively to essentially cost-free initiatives like Frederick Jefferson's efforts in 1993 to organize focus group workshops on "diversity and community." Back in 1983/1984 the UR was something of a national leader, at least in the philosophical commitment of its top administrators and faculty. A decade later, because of institutional inertia and the accidents of timing, the University of Rochester had turned progressively inward and had become so preoccupied with local problems that it was, at best, seemingly but dimly aware of important national trends.
The new administration of President Thomas Jackson, beginning formally in the summer of 1994, did not improve the situation. The basic reason was that it became, in Jackson's own words, "a bit obsessed" with the problem considered most central at the end of the previous administration, that of the discount rate (in 1993 up to 46.6% of undergraduate tuition revenue) and the related problem of declining student "quality" as measured by SAT scores. Jackson stated the issues quite explicitly in his first recorded meeting with the Faculty Senate, a get-acquainted session in April, 1994.
We're off the scale in many ways in terms of tuition discounting ... what's happened here over the last five or six years has happened at most private universities. They just started from a smaller base. They've gone from 25%-38%. We've gone from 35%-47%. ... We could change the dollar revenue coming in on tuition tomorrow by downing the quality of the student body. The question institutionally for us is what sorts of trade-offs does that involve? ... The problem you have to worry about is whether or not you're on a slippery slope, that you lower the quality every year. In ten years you no longer have anybody who's willing to pay tuition to come here and you've made things worse in the long run. Those are real tradeoffs currently on the table as to the amount of money that comes in and the quality of the student body.
Jackson and new Provost Charles Phelps began intensive work on these problems during the summer of 1994. As data became available on the new freshman cohort, it was clear that the discount rate had gone up yet again, to 49.3%. A large share of this increase was due to stiff competition with SUNY schools for New York State residents. Only 13% of students admitted to both SUNY and UR but without UR financial aid chose to enroll at the University; with financial aid, the percentage accepting UR over SUNY jumped to 55%. However, students from the six county area around Rochester who received a $5,000 "Community Grant" but no other financial aid showed a 115% increase in enrollment. Seizing on this "data point," Jackson and Phelps reasoned that the Community Grant greatly increased the yield of non-needy students, who also had significantly higher SAT scores. Generalizing to all New York counties, they proposed a $5,000 "Meliora Grant" to state residents (and alumni children), which they hoped would dramatically improve the enrollment yield of non-needy, high SAT students.
In October, 1994 Jackson took the Meliora Grant proposal to the trustees, who approved the experiment. Admissions then immediately began aggressively marketing the program to applicants for the freshman class that would enter in fall 1995. In May 1995 preliminary data on that coalescing cohort indicated that Jackson's plan had worked remarkably well. Full pay students were up 3 to 4 percent and SAT scores a dramatic 30 to 40 points. Jackson made the decision at that time to consolidate the SAT gain by freezing overall class size, although this meant sacrificing potential tuition revenue. When firmer data on the impact of the Meliora Grant were available in September, 1995, this is how Enrollments Vice President Scannell summarized what had happened in the 1994-1995 admissions year.
The decision was made by Tom Jackson in the springtime, when we were seeing a significant quality gain, not to go for the traditional 50 [additional] students but to reduce that target to 1100. ... the fact that we came in with that number of enrollees is a function of yield going up, mostly as a factor of the Meliora program ... Here is the quality increase in SAT scores of 34 points. ... as you would expect, we went from 49% from New York State to 57% ... What Meliora did was take the need based aid percentages in the freshman class down from 71% to 65%. ... This is the first time that curve has actually turned around.
Jackson now extrapolated from the lessons learned in experimenting with the Meliora Grant. By shifting emphasis from revenue gain to improvement in quality as the top admissions priority he hit upon the idea that improvement in quality would provide the mechanism for ultimate revenue gain. As he told the Faculty Senate on September 19, 1995, "I'm convinced that the great hope for this institution is that revenue will follow quality. If we can get good enough students to come back, we'll get enough students who will be willing to pay close enough to our sticker price that our net revenue will go up ..." Then generalizing from the experience of 1994-1995, Jackson reasoned that the easiest way to achieve higher quality was to decrease class size even if it meant short-term tuition losses. He could achieve double gains by dropping out the bottom of the applicant pool.
... at the bottom of our applicant pool currently are our most needy students, what we call sometimes "double poor." They're poor financially and they're poor academically, so by dropping them we'd drop the neediest students and we'd drop the poorest quality.
This was the birth of the "Renaissance Plan," which Jackson presented to the trustees later in the fall of 1995. Once again, the trustees approved Jackson's initiative and committed themselves temporarily to reversing the "rampdown" on the endowment draw in order to allow the plan to go forward.
In its formal statement, the Renaissance Plan called for a freshman class to enter in 1996 with 900 rather than 1100 to 1150 students. Jackson explained the outlines of his plan and the reasoning behind it to the Faculty Senate on November 21, 1995.
A reduction in the size of the student body will next year have a dramatic impact on the average student body quality of the institution. ... if you make rational admission decisions, you won't be accepting the lower-end that you need to fill a class of 1150 if you accept a class of 900. ... by bringing in higher quality students and providing an environment here ... that is attractive to those students ... we can change the character of [who] wants to apply here and come here to mirror a lot of other institutions that today do better than we do on student body quality and, most importantly perhaps, revenue per student. ... Reducing the size of the student body next year has an immediate quality increase. It has a revenue consequence. The role of the trustees in this was to commit to fill in what we called to them "investment cost" of this new program, which we estimate to be about $13 million over the first five-year period. ... The trustees are committed to do that [with the] endowment as necessary ... The reduction in the student body size can be reversed if it doesn't work and we can go back to trying to increase revenue by increasing the size of the student body.
When preliminary data were available in May, 1996, indications were that the plan had, in fact, "worked." As of May 22, 865 River Campus freshmen were enrolled in the class. Their average combined SAT score was 1293, up 53 points from the 1995 freshman cohort. Although financial aid and therefore the discount rate continued high, administration officials were not overly concerned. As Provost Phelps put it,
We did not expect to do anything except continue on the path of a fairly high discount rate this year, if for no other reason that we've put in a fairly large body of new merit aid programs that are counted in that. ... But the goal here is to maximize the quality signal to the rest of the world and then, beginning in subsequent years ... begin to see changes in the way people perceive us, how they apply, and in the yield. ... There was a very deliberate process here, not to trade off money for quality this year, because we want to maximize the quality signal.
One issue troubled a number of people, however, and that was the issue of how the Renaissance Plan would affect the recruitment and enrollment of underrepresented minority students and diversity at the University in general. Jackson was clearly sensitive to this issue because already on January 24, 1995 (and at other times) he had indicated his approval of diversity in the University's undergraduate population. Indeed, he commented on that occasion that UR had seemed to do better with a "numerical" count of diversity than with actually building a diverse community. Despite these assurances, when the Renaissance Plan was formally announced to the Faculty Senate in November, 1995 some faculty still did not feel confident about the University's continuing commitment. One of them pointedly asked Jackson the following question:
In the past we have talked that the student body should reflect the diversity of the population in the United States. Is that diversity going to be a goal too?
Jackson responded as follows:
It is a goal for a lot of very important internal reasons for the institution. Educational institutions, it seems to me, are about diversity of ideas and it's going to be reflected in the kind of population we need to have here as students. Nothing in this [Plan] is inconsistent with that goal.
Yet when Scannell reported preliminary admissions results in May, 1996 he indicated that the number of underrepresented minority students in the first "Renaissance" cohort was down to 11% from 14% the previous year. He also reminded the Faculty Senate that he had been strongly committed to the recruitment of underrepresented minority students to the University of Rochester for twelve years and that he had decided to leave his post as Enrollments Vice President as of June. The tables and charts accompanying his presentation -- for the first time in twelve years -- contained no data on the racial, ethnic, or national characteristics of the freshman cohort. Instead, they were filled entirely with detailed analyses of SAT and ACT scores.
Scannell was replaced by Neill Sanders, whose first presentation to the Faculty Senate, on September 17, 1996, focused on the now consolidated Renaissance freshman class. He was able to report an average composite SAT score of 1288 and a growth from 24% to 40% of the freshman cohort with SATs above 1350. The discount rate was 55.3%. But Sanders presented no tables indicating ethnic, racial or national characteristics and failed to mention minorities at all. When he returned a year later, on September 16, 1997, to report on the second Renaissance class, the substance of his presentation was quite different. Although he still offered no tables, he reported that The College had failed by 100 students to enroll an entering freshman cohort of 900. Compensating for this disappointment to some extent was a slight improvement in average composite SAT score to 1298 and a drop in the discount rate -- the first in many years -- to 53.6%. But the number of underrepresented minorities was down, now being under 10% of the class. Sanders focused primarily, however, not on the drop in minority students but on the shortfall of 100 freshmen overall. He pointed to problems in overly optimistic springtime admissions forecasts and to a 3% drop in the yield rate. The University needed to overhaul its recruitment publications and to reach out better to targetted schools where there were students whose families had greater ability to pay undiscounted tuition.
One year later, on September 15, 1998, Sanders again appeared before the Faculty Senate. This time a faculty member complained that Sanders was rattling off numbers without organizing his data into easily readable charts and tables. The numbers indicated a River Campus freshman cohort of 950, an increase in the average composite SAT score to 1302, and a drop in the discount rate to 50.2%. But the precentage of underrepresented minority students was down again, for the third year in a row. This is how the data looked for the first three Renaissance Plan years.
|Black||57 (5.6)||38 (4.3)||38 (3.6)|
|Hispanic||47 (4.6)||34 (3.8)||38 (3.6)|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||125 (12.4)||104 (11.7)||127 (12.0)|
|Foreign||44 (4.4)||36 (4.0)||40 (3.8)|
Although administration officials were quick to point out that several other universities around the country were also having difficulties enrolling underrepresented minority students, these data would seem to indicate that, at least in terms of freshman admissions, the Renaissance Plan looked as if it had an unfortunate if unintended impact on diversity at the University of Rochester.
Indications from elsewhere in the University suggest that diversity suffered other setbacks as well during the first phase of the Jackson administration. The clearest evidence is in the area of minority faculty and staff recruitment and retention. In the first September of the new administration (1994), official data recorded 4.9% tenured minority faculty University-wide and another 9.3% non-tenured in tenure track ranks. By September 1997 the tenured percentage had risen very slightly to 5.2% but the non-tenured percentage had dropped to 7.0%. This, at best, flat curve indicated lack of real progress at the University despite Provost Phelps' elaborate explanation to the Faculty Senate in January 1995 of the administrative mechanisms he had established to ensure serious efforts at minority recruitment. To make matters worse, by fall 1998 the University saw the departure of three highly visible African American administrators: Director of River Campus Admissions Wayne Locust, Director of River Campus Financial Aid Ryan Williams, and Dean of Sophomores Sharon Fluker. Symbolically, at least, it looked as if the cause of diversity had begun to lose ground during the Jackson administration. Since the Frederick Douglass Institute also entered a period of turbulence and instability at this same time and since few other obvious diversity initiatives were clearly visible on the River Campus, some wondered whether, in fact, the University had even drifted backwards against the national current.
Viewing the University of Rochester in the nineties from the historical perspective we have just presented helps explain a great deal about the institutional uncertainty and campus climate we encountered from late 1997 to early 1999 during our work as a committee. We discovered that knowing the past was indeed essential to understanding the present, especially with regard to the priorities, perceptions and confusions of administrators, faculty, staff and students. In effect, we developed something of what Charles Darwin called the ability to look at "every complex structure ... as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, nearly in the same way as when we look at any great mechanical invention as the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen." Specifically, the historical context we worked to recreate helped make comprehensible the University's present lack of a clearly identifiable institutional diversity policy, the absence of a linkage to the national "DiversityWeb," and the incoherence in much of the University's current diversity initiatives and programming. We will review the current campus climate in greater detail in the next section, "Institutional Audit."
As indicated above, we began to conduct our audit concurrently with the exploration of diversity efforts nationwide, and when we first focused on the specific method of audit the committee considered various procedural options we had already learned about. One possibility was to follow a formal protocol, such as outlined in Minorities on Campus: A Handbook for Enhancing Diversity published by the American Council on Education. Although we had not yet come to the conclusion that race and the status of underrepresented minorities on campus were urgent priorities, we found this protocol an excellent, step-by-step guide and therefore worth our serious consideration. Because by this time we were also already committed to historical work, we were encouraged by a sentence in the first paragraph of Chapter 2 ("Conducting an Institutional Audit"): "Your current situation is most meaningful when considered in relation to past achievements and failures." Proceeding further in the chapter, however, proved discouraging. Institutions are urged to develop two checklists, one of "Institutional Policies" and another of "Institutional Procedures." Below are representative questions from each.
Checklist of Institutional Policies
-- Is increasing minority participation an institutional priority? Has the governing board approved a policy designed to increase minority participation? Does it include specific goals? Has it been presented to the entire campus community?
-- Are there regular reviews of institutional progress by the president and board?
-- Are there individuals in various units or schools designated to identify and document problem areas and to recommend a course of action?
-- Are there routine collections of data on minority participation and dissemination of that data to the campus community?
-- Are admissions criteria and practices reviewed periodically to determine if they are consonant with increasing minority enrollments?
-- Are dormitory and campus life activities reviewed periodically to determine if they are consonant with the institutional effort to provide a climate that respects a pluralistic culture?
Checklist of Institutional Procedures
-- Is there a person designated to monitor the campus climate with respect to racial tolerance?
-- Does each department or school conduct a periodic assessment of its efforts to improve minority participation and its progress to date?
-- Do schools or units use advisory committees to identify ways to expand contacts in the minority community and to strengthen efforts to recruit minority students, faculty, and administrators? Do they use minority professional associations? minority disciplinary associations? contacts with deans and department heads at historically black institutions?
-- Does institutional publicity portray minorities in a manner consistent with the goals of enhancing minority participation? Is there a process for reviewing publications and advising on their compatibility with institutional goals?
-- Are employment practices and advancement procedures reviewed periodically to assess their impact on minority faculty and staff? Do special efforts and programs exist to identify promising minority professionals and to assist in their career advancement?
As a committee exercise, we decided to pool our knowledge and attempt collectively to answer these questions. We discovered rather quickly that, to the best our ability, we would have to answer most questions either "No" or "Don't Know." We also discovered that, to the best of our knowledge, the University has never conducted a formal audit such as described in the Handbook and that to do one correctly would require more time and resources than we had available. This suggested to us that our audit process would be better served by a less formal and more flexible procedure. We decided on a series of interviews and discussions with a number of key institutional representatives and with students and student organizations. We also decided to learn what we could about certain University policies and initiatives and to monitor campus climate by reading student publications and keeping track of major incidents and events. We acknowledge that our audit methods were not systematic enough to be considered rigorous nor extensive enough to be judged exhaustive, but we believe that we have produced a useful and revealing snapshot of the campus status quo.
In addition to Frederick Jefferson who, as mentioned earlier, helped us with historical background, we interviewed or had extensive conversations with the following individuals: Provost Charles Phelps; Dean of Undergraduate Enrollment Policy and Management Neill Sanders (accompanied by then Director of River Campus Admissions Wayne Locust and Director of Financial Aid Andrea Leithner); Director of Student Activities/Wilson Commons Robert Rouzer; Director of Residential Life Logan Hazen; and Residential Life staff member Viki Cvitkovic. We began each conversation by asking that person what he or she meant by "diversity" and what the principal issues and problems associated with it at UR seemed to be. We now review the highlights of these conversations.
Our conversation with Provost Phelps began with his clear indication of the importance of diversity to the University and its students. When our students graduate, he noted, they will enter a world filled with people of a "dizzying variety of backgrounds." Provost Phelps acknowledged that the University of Rochester was a signatory to the April 14, 1997 statement of the Association of American Universities ("On the Importance of Diversity in University Admissions"), which we quoted on an early page of this report. He applauded the goals of our committee and expressed his hope that what we recommend will help the University better achieve diversity.
Other parts of our conversation, however, had a different tone. Provost Phelps acknowledged that, despite its merits, the goal of diversity was, in some areas, very difficult to attain. There are difficulties, for example, in the recruitment of an increasingly diverse faculty despite the clear instructions he provides to search committees and deans, his use of special search consultants, and his readiness to use Provost's start-up funds to assist in the hiring of minority faculty. The underlying difficulty is a possible conflict in University goals: between increasing faculty diversity on the one hand and maintaining financial viability on the other. Similarly with regard to student recruitment, the University has to struggle with the tension between the desirability of an increasingly diverse student body and the impact that might have on the University's finances.
Phelps directed a major part of our conversation to another difficulty threatening the goal of diversity in undergraduate admissions: the current legal climate. Pointing to recent court cases in Texas and Michigan that challenged affirmative action admissions procedures, Provost Phelps remarked that "the legal environment changed very precipitously under our feet." He noted that after the famous Hopwood (Texas) case Rice University in Houston felt compelled to revise its admissions practices, with a resulting drop of 50% in minority enrollment. At the University of Rochester, we have eliminated a "differential" in advertising for Rush Rhees scholars, and , as a result, the number of minority students in the Rush Rhees group dropped by 20-25%.
Provost Phelps indicated that the University's counsels were working hard on the legal issues although much remained unclear. It is not yet certain where the "safe harbors" will be, and a great deal will depend on the evolution of case law. The assumption among provosts and legal scholars around the country, however, is that the current environment and the constraints resulting from it will only get worse. Since minority student applications have been down nationwide for the last several years, the situation, overall, does not bode well.
Our conversation with Enrollments Dean Sanders touched on several of the same issues we had already discussed with Provost Phelps. For example, Dean Sanders pointed to the current legal environment and noted that because of it universities were no longer able to offer explicitly race-based scholarships. While UR still offers admission to any minority applicant who in our judgment can succeed academically at the University and while we still try to provide as attractive needs-based financial aid packages as possible, we have experienced a marked decline in minority applications in recent years, especially from African American males. Because this is part of a national trend, the UR now faces ferocious competition for the declining number of applicants in the underrepresented minority pool. Among New York State schools, NYU and Columbia have been particularly aggressive, and Cornell has suffered as well as UR.
Dean Sanders also discussed what he thinks is a nationwide trend for African American students to enroll increasingly in traditionally black colleges and universities. The reason for this trend seems to be that these students now believe they will feel more comfortable at traditionally black schools. Partly in response to this trend and partly as a general step-up of our minority recruitment efforts, the UR has become more aggressive in its outreach efforts. Boston, New York City and Philadelphia have been special recruitment targets, and there are plans to establish regional admissions offices in Atlanta, in the Great Lakes metropolitan areas, and in the the San Diego-Seattle corridor. In addition, Dean Sanders reported that the Admissions Office has been building relationships with Urban Leagues around the country and has been enlisting the aid of our own minority undergraduates as voluntary recruiting "ambassadors." Whether our current students will volunteer with enthusiasm and in significant numbers and whether minority recruitment efforts in general will succeed in reversing the downward enrollment trend of recent years remain open questions.
The conversation with Robert Rouzer shifted attention from recruitment and admissions to the University's efforts at fostering a sense of individual belonging and intergroup understanding once students actually arrive and begin to take part in campus life. We briefly discussed the pre-freshman Summer Orientation Program (SOP) and the "Freshman Focus" sessions during "Yellowjacket Days," the six-day period between new students' moving onto campus for the fall semester and the start of classes. University diversity efforts here consist primarily in close attentiveness to the choice of a heterogeneous and representative group of student summer orientation advisors (SAs) and dormitory resident advisors (RAs); these efforts generally seem to have been successful in recent years. The "Welcome Assembly" centerpiece of SOP is another intended occasion for creating a sense of inclusion in a diverse campus community, but in the judgment of our committee this is an opportunity largely missed. Rouzer felt, in general, that orientation activities failed to achieve many of their intended purposes because too much happens in too short a time and because students are not really ready for all the messages transmitted. Rouzer still has faith, however, in an exercise in multicultural understanding scheduled during Yellowjacket Days and built around the viewing and discussion of a 1-hour film, "Frosh," made at Stanford in 1990-1991. The film raises three diversity issues (race, gender, and sexual orientation). It is shown to the group as a whole and then followed by breakout discussions led by RAs. According to our student members, the film is generally perceived as stale and dated and discussion tends to get "blown off."
Most of the conversation with Rouzer focused on the many student organizations advised and supported by the Student Activities Office. In his judgment, this office is as supportive now as it has ever been. The wide array of student groups representing various races, cultures, religions, ethnicities and other identities began to form in the seventies and has multiplied ever since. Student Activities has created a "recognition process" for new groups which includes formal registration, access to meeting facilities, food money for an interest meeting, and copying privileges. Once groups are organized, they may apply for activities funds from the Student Association. The Student Activities Office is not formally part of the appropriations process but maintains close rapport with Student Association leadership and occasionally acts in an "advising" role if and when intense frictions arise. In Rouzer's judgment, African American students have been well represented in Student Association leadership positions, and Asian American students have also done well. Hispanic students have achieved status on the Appropriations Committee but not yet attained major Student Association leadership positions. Rouzer believes that International students have done least well within the Student Association. The Student Activities Office also tries to stimulate dialogue between organizations and encourages the use of "proximity" to facilitate this, as in the sharing of office space by the Black Students' Union and the Spanish and Latino Students' Association. Rouzer would like to see more diversity in Student Activities professional staff positions, which he believes would enhance the effectiveness of the office, but acknowledges that generally low salary levels and overall Student Affairs budget limitations contribute to difficulties in recruitment, especially of top minority candidates.
The discussions with Logan Hazen and Viki Cvitkovic helped the committee understand the efforts Residential Life undertakes to help foster a climate for diversity on campus. The recruitment of a diverse group of RAs is the critical centerpiece, and Hazen was pleased to report that currently there are more students of color (c. 40%) in RA training classes than ever before. The training of RAs includes role-playing exercises, discussions, readings and sensitivity training; some of this touches on the principles of diversity and the "diversity resources" available on campus. Once RAs are actually on the job in the residence halls, they are required to arrange programs in five different thematic areas each semester. Two of these are community development and cultural programming. Among the options RAs have used to fulfill their cultural programming "requirement" are arranging for students on their hall to attend a "cultural" event on campus (such as MELA sponsored by ADITI), conducting structured diversity discussions, and leading informal conversations involving International students residing on the hall. Another available option is to have students attend a performance of SHADES, a troupe made up of RAs, Residential Life staff, and students at large. Through a series of short skits, SHADES examines issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and attempts to foster respect for diverse cultures, values and perspectives. Finally, RAs are trained in mediation and arbitration techniques so that they are prepared to resolve tensions and disputes that may arise on halls or between roommates. According to several RAs and in the judgment of the student members of our committee, however, RAs are not as well trained in diversity programming and conflict resolution as they could be, and diversity programs tend to be the least successful and most readily ignored by students. Yet in another and perhaps more directly effective way, Residential Life works to ensure diversity by insisting on heterogeneous representation in special interest housing. As one recent example, the 25-member student and staff Residential Life Advisory Committee worked closely with a group of students wishing to form a "Culture House" until an acceptable balance of minority and non-minority students was achieved. Hazen reported that Residential Life thought its primary mission here was to prevent the problems that seem to have arisen with segregated student housing at Cornell.
We also directed our attention in our institutional audit to student organizations. Our procedure was to reach out via ads inviting discussion with the committee which we placed in the Campus Times and The Buzz and by individual contacts with specific organizations. We invited all of what we judged were the relevant "religious" and "multicultural" groups from lists compiled by the Student Activities Office. Of a possible twenty seven groups by our count, the following scheduled meetings: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Friends Association (GLBFA); Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC); Vietnamese Student Association (VSA); and Minority Student Advisory Board (MSAB), an umbrella group representing the Black Student's Union, Spanish and Latino Students' Association, African and Caribbean Culture Club, Society of African Students, UR Messenger, Charles Drew Pre-Health Society, National Pan-Hellenic Council, National Society of Black Engineers, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
We learned some interesting and surprising things in our meetings with the first three groups. The Vietnamese Student Association, for example, reported that it had recently been revitalized after passing through a period of inactivity but was still having difficulty getting Vietnamese students to attend and support events. VSA felt that it received good support from Student Activities staff and an occasional faculty member but was frustrated because the many student organizations on campus were not communicating with one another. VSA noted, in particular, that there was no Asian umbrella organization equivalent to MSAB. Representatives of GLBFA reported that they had no direct faculty support but felt that the Student Activities Office and a few other staff members have been quite helpful. Although their Student Association-provided funding has been increasing, they felt that the Campus Times largely ignores Gay issues. GLBFA representatives mentioned two recent incidents which underlined their sense that the UR campus community was not "Gay-friendly": the tearing down of flyers advertising a drag show and opposition from certain religious groups to a planned interdenominational Pride service. Representatives of BASIC denied rumors of their anti-Gay attitudes and claimed that they were themselves the target of hostility from others on campus. They pointed out that campus Christian groups were "segregated" to a large extent along various racial and doctrinal lines and that they encountered difficulties when attempting to organize "One Voice" as a "unity worship service." It was striking that representatives of all three organizations said quite clearly that they were aware of the existence on campus of organizations such as theirs when making their decisions to attend the UR.
Our discussion with the Minority Student Advisory Board was more detailed and probing than the others, along several dimensions. It began with expressions of concern about the future of students of color at the University. MSAB representatives indicated their perception that the number of minority students has seemed to decline precipitously in recent years and that students new to the University were generally less willing than those in the past to get involved in organizations and in campus life. MSAB leaders feared that the University in recruiting students of color is no longer looking for well-rounded individuals but basing selection exclusively on grade point averages and SAT and ACT scores.
MSAB representatives also discussed what they described as a generally non-supportive academic atmosphere. They felt that, unlike Office of Minority Student Affairs counselors, standard freshman advisors were excessively non-directive. There was no perceived proactive outreach or support, and students were left to fend for themselves in the "do or die" UR environment. This was their experience as well in the Career Center, where they felt particular coolness and a generally "bad vibe." MSAB representatives distinguished between minority students who had been through the Early Connection Opportunity (ECO) pre-freshman summer program and those who had not, and thought that the ECO students were "very tight" and "better connected" than the non-participants. The students reported their acute awareness of the small number of minority faculty, especially in the science departments, and thought that they could connect more easily to the academic life of the College if there were more faculty of color. They also believed that the College curriculum was insufficiently reflective of the experiences and perceptions of people of color and that this has only been made worse by the problems of the Frederick Douglass Institute.
With regard to other aspects of campus life, MSAB representatives thought that the "Focus" portion of Yellowjacket Days was not particularly helpful and that the movie shown at that time ("Frosh") was quite dated. They felt that student organizations tended to stay within their own "comfort zones" and that more efforts should be made to stimulate outreach and cooperation between organizations. There were mixed views among MSAB representatives about how well the Student Association did through its Outside Speakers Committee to produce representative programming and a wide array of invited speakers and other visitors. There was clear unanimity, however, that security arrangements for minority student social events reflected insensitivity and inequity, specifically in treating all minority student groups as a collectivity and in assessing much higher security charges for minority student social events in the May Room of Wilson Commons than for non-minority events on the Fraternity Quadrangle. MSAB representatives also reported certain incidents in which campus security officers seemed to treat minority students with undue coolness and suspicion.
In following campus publications, we noted that many of the concerns MSAB representatives expressed were regularly echoed in UR Messenger and the Campus Times. UR Messenger is a journal of student opinion dedicated to "discussing issues of race and culture." Many of its articles follow national issues and events, while others focus directly on campus developments. The feature article in the December, 1997 issue, for example, addressed the absence of minority faculty in higher educational institutions by looking at both the national scene and UR specifically. Under the title "UR Not Unlike the Rest," the authors raise the following issues: "Why such low numbers [of tenured minority faculty at UR]? It is impossible to point to a single factor, but the disproportion has caused many to question the university's commitment to recruitment and retention of persons of color. With the dismal state of the Frederick Douglass Institute and a dramatic decrease of minority students as a result of the Renaissance Plan, it is no wonder that many faculty feel diversity is not a priority of the administration." Similarly, the February, 1998 issue published a very hard-hitting article entitled "The Death of the Frederick Douglass Institute." After reviewing the turbulent history of the Institute, the authors conclude: " ... the consciousness conveyed in the handling of the Institute has left a ... significant scar on the student body -- a scar that reeks of this university's indifference towards issues of race and culture."
The weekly Campus Times also regularly ran news stories, letters, and opinion pieces reflecting the same basic set of concerns. Most notable, of course, were the series of CT issues leading up to and immediately following the MSAB-led sit-in at the Wallis Administration Building on Februrary 22, 1999. The tensions and frustrations building to this event can be clearly discerned in the newspaper. On January 28, the CT published an opinion piece by Student Association President Skye Morey. In part, it read as follows:
The university is supposed to open us up to new ideas, new cultures and new interactions. Yet how can it do so when various levels of leadership increasingly put students' concerns about diversity at the bottom of their institutional agendas? Take for example the degeneration of the Frederick Douglass Institute, which has been a concern to many students. For a school that prides itself on the caliber of its education, the gaping hole in curriculum left by the vacancy of the Institute begs the question: Is our diversity of thought being deliberately quashed? ... The diversity of our educators is low as well, with few tenured professors of minority background within The College. ... The position of Coordinator of Minority Student Recruitment in Admissions has been vacant since the beginning of this school year. ... the search for a person to fill the position seems vague and noncommittal ... As students, we are held accountable for our decisions and actions by our professors and administrators. We, too, have a right and obligation to hold our administrators accountable to us.
President Jackson felt compelled to respond to Morey in the February 4 issue with an opinion piece of his own. He indicated that the University had speeded up and enhanced the search for the Coordinator of Minority Recruitment and had recently appointed a high-level faculty committee to make recommendations about the future of the Frederick Douglass Institute. Most of all, he reaffirmed his commitment to diversity in the University which, he said, "is an important priority for me, and, I hope, for all of the university community."
Jackson's assurances did not satisfy MSAB leadership, however. As reported in the February 18 Campus Times, over the weekend of February 13 and 14 MSAB distributed a flyer outlining a five-point bill of particulars against the Jackson administration. The points were: the slippage in minority admissions; the debilitating crisis in the Frederick Douglass Institute; insensitivity to campus minority programming; the lack of adequate numbers of minority faculty and staff; and the poor treatment of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. MSAB framed its concerns as follows: "The apathy of the administration at the University of Rochester presents a real danger to the continued existence of a healthy minority community. ... the University has dealt with insufficient vision, planning or commitment to minority issues for over thirty years. ... The Administration must move to solve the ... [five] issues before we as a board are forced to take further action." Feeling that the Jackson administration made no adequate response to their concerns, MSAB took further action by staging a well-planned and well-executed sit-in of the Administration Building on February 22. After four hours of intensive negotiation, the students emerged victorious, having won concessions on essentially all points of contention. Students, for example, will be added to the committee evaluating the Douglass Institute and the administration will meet regularly with MSAB to keep it up-to-date on the recruitment of the Coordinator for Minority Recruitment and on the development of plans for the recruitment of additional minority faculty and staff. These events were reported in all the local media and in the Campus Times for February 25. What was most striking about the extensive coverage in the CT was the consistently positive tone of the articles, editorials, and opinion pieces, which generously praised MSAB for its courageous, dignifiied and intelligent handling of the sit-in. Although that issue's editorial tried to be even-handed and give the Jackson administration credit as well, Daniel Berkowitz in his opinion piece wrote as follows: "So why did I attend this rally? Because students finally stood up for themselves and demanded action and explanation from the administration. I support their initiative entirely. Those 200 individuals won a victory for the entire student body. ... Students, thanks for making it happen. Administration, thank you for finally righting a wrong."
We come now to the last part of our audit procedure, a very quick survey of various other policies and initiatives that have some direct bearing on diversity as it affects undergraduate students at the University. For example, we looked into The College's policy with regard to students with disabilities. Our finding was that while the College and the University at large are basically in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, compliance has often been compartmentalized and at times reluctant. Students with physical disabilities are generally granted accommodations, and services have been added to support the growing number of students with certified learning disabilities. But the feeling among disabled students and their advocates is that the University has made little or no consistent effort to change its internal culture and, as a result, UR is still seen as a place that is not especially warm or welcoming to this dimension of diversity. Our survey also indicated that the Interfaith Chapel (IFC) on the River Campus and the Community Service Network (CSN) run out of the Dean of Students Office are two potentially wonderful resources for increasing multicultural understanding in the student body. The Mission Statement of the Interfaith Chapel calls attention to its roles as "a reconciling agency within the University community" and as "a structure for facilitating communication and understanding ... among religious groups at the University." Likewise, the Community Service Network pledges to connect multicultural understanding to a "lifelong commitment to social responsibility." Our sense, however, is that the full potential of both IFC and CSN as agents for enhancing intergroup understanding and acceptance and for conveying the true importance of diversity in our undergraduate community is, at the moment, far from being fully realized.
Given the special emphasis of the Residential College Commission, we thought it useful to end our audit with a series of student life questions for further study. These questions arose in the course of our discussions and other explorations and are based on general impressions that we developed as a committee. We cannot document the problems identified in the same sense as we did others touched on in our audit, but we believe there is sufficient basis to note these questions now and suggest that they be systematically pursued in the near future.
-- Does the "Video Tour" currently used by Admissions project an inhospitable image of the University from a minority perspective?
-- Have recent changes in the Financial Aid Office (i.e., shifts from scholarship to loan support, greater rigidity about deadlines and other rules and regulations, high level of staff turnover, change from an alphabet-based to a walk-in assignment of counselors) had a negative impact on "user-friendliness" and does this, in turn, have significant negative impact on student retention, especially on the retention of minority students?
-- Is the Career Center adequately staffed in a sufficiently diverse manner so as to provide optimal service to all the students who use it?
-- Has "professional assessment" of security requirements for social events in the May Room been done with sufficient rigor and without generalizing about the students and student groups involved?
-- Do minority students live off campus in disproportionate numbers, especially since Valentine and de Kiewiet Tower were closed to undergraduates, and does this have a negative impact on opportunities for intergroup and intercultural understanding through the residential experience?
-- Is the attention of students adequately called to the racial harrassment and related policies contained in the Student Handbook and are those policies rigorously enforced for the benefit of improving intergroup sensitivity and understanding?
Our overall impression from the quick survey and list of questions and, more generally, from our institutional audit is that the University of Rochester clearly has many problems to address with regard to diversity. A few of these problems may be, in part, perceptual, but many others are unquestionably real and substantial. There certainly seems to be broad consensus, at least in the student body, that the institution needs to devote serious effort to confronting and solving these problems. The existence of problems does not belie the fact that there are many individuals of good will and wonderful intentions who have been trying to address them for years or prevent them from occurring in the first place. But the persistence and perhaps deepening of problems suggests that the University has no unified policy or crystal clear vision on which to act. In our view, the University must now acknowledge its present status in the context of its past history, and must be prepared, if necessary, to dedicate itself anew with a fresh sense of mission and purpose. We offer our recommendations in the final section in the hope that they will help galvanize that process.
We come, finally, to our recommendations. Although we will offer specifics, our first and most important recommendation is a very general one: that the University rededicate itself to the cause of diversity, in some sense as a "back to the future" return to what we as an institution seem to have gotten right at various times in the past but from which, at the moment, we appear to have strayed. This institutional rededication must be all-encompassing, including the Board of Trustees, central administration, deans, directors, departmental chairs, individual faculty, staff and students. It must be a strong and thorough commitment, backed with the will and financial resources to make it work. If it is just rhetoric, "rededication" is bound to fail.
To start the process with some concrete particulars, we offer fifteen specific recommendations. Our recommendations are in bold, our reasoning justifying them in ordinary typeface.
(1) The University should develop a specific policy or mission statement on diversity, which should initially be distributed campus-wide, then included in the Faculty Handbook, the Official Bulletin, and in all student recruiting materials.
Creating and disseminating this statement would be an important first step in the rededication of the University to the principle of diversity. Since many major universities already have such statements, creating one at UR will bring us back into the national diversity discussion from which we have recently been absent.
The committee proposes the following statement as a first draft: "The University of Rochester is dedicated, in theory and practice, to the goal of a diverse faculty, student body, and staff. The quality and vibrancy of our institution's academic and co-curricular life depend heavily upon the wide variety of viewpoints, perspectives, and backgrounds embraced and evidenced by our faculty, staff, students, and administrators, as well as the heterogeneity of research and intellectual agendas which they pursue. Working with and learning from diverse individuals enhances the learning process and the intellectual community, and exposes each of us to viewpoints and ways of thinking which we might otherwise have missed. On every level, diversity adds immeasurably to the creation of new knowledge and the understanding of our individual and shared pasts. As Princeton University has put it, By incorporating a broad range of human experiences and a rich variety of human perspectives, we enlarge our capacity for learning, enrich the quality and texture of campus life, and better prepare for life and leadership in a pluralistic society. The University of Rochester seeks to develop a shared and inclusive understanding of diversity in all its complexity, and to create a nurturing and welcoming campus climate for all. We commit ourselves to the recruitment and retention of a diverse administration, faculty, staff, and student body. In our academic endeavors and co-curricular life, we support acknowledgment of the differences between us, while simultaneously encouraging dialogue and the building of relationships based on our common intellectual, social and emotional experiences."
(2) The University should develop a website devoted to campus diversity efforts, which should be clearly linked to the UR homepage.
Constructing this website would follow naturally from Recommendation (1) and would also allow the University to become part of "DiversityWeb" discussed above in the "Diversity Around the Country" section of this report. At present, there are a few diversity links from the UR homepage but they are rather indirect and obscure. For example, one can click on "Student Life" on the homepage and get to "River Campus Student Organizations," which in turn links to "Multicultural Groups" and "Religious Organizations." Alternatively, one can click on "Libraries" on the homepage and then to "Diversity Program" [of the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries]. From this link one can get to "Diversity Information on the Web," and, in turn, to "The University of Rochester's Affirmative Action Plan." These are quite obscure links which the first time visitor to UR's homepage may not find. The University can do far better and produce a website similar to those of the universities linked to DiversityWeb.
(3) The University should include in its admissions and recruitment materials a new brochure to replace Students of Color: Nine True Stories, which has been phased out. Development of a new brochure should be part of an ongoing review of all admissions materials, to ensure that they are consistent with our commitment to diversity.
The Office of Admissions has been considering a new "diversity" brochure which may soon be ready for production. We recommend for serious consideration as a good model to emulate the Harvard-Radcliffe Perspectives on Diversity. Here's a small sample of the text: "Like many American colleges and universities, Harvard and Radcliffe have experienced major changes in the composition of its student body. Today, African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American students constitute a significant presence here. In fact, students of color now comprise approximately one-third of each entering class. The increasing number of minority students on campus has broadened the base of student organizations and activities. ... Minority student organizations sponsor political and cultural workshops, social gatherings, speaker and film series, and fine arts performances." Both text and accompanying photographs reinforce Harvard-Radcliffe's commitment to a campus with remarkably diverse faculty, students, and campus guests.
The continuing review and update of recruitment materials should be part of a coherent plan developed and overseen by the Admissions Office. This plan should include the hiring of appropriate high level staff, the creation of a network of regional offices and referral sites, and the use of current undergraduate students as admissions "ambassadors."
(4) A diversity focus should be integrated into pre-freshman and freshman orientation activities.
As indicated above in the "Institutional Audit" section, our current SOP and "Focus on Freshmen" diversity programming leaves much to be desired. We could get many new and fresh ideas simply by browsing on DiversityWeb, and we might also wish to consider some specific institutional examples. At Brown University, all freshmen are required to attend a meeting chaired by the President at which they are introduced to Brown's commitment to diversity and pluralism. This meeting is followed by a film and discussion groups. As many students have indicated, we are probably past due to replace "Frosh" as our film of choice. Different films and other programming resources are readily available and some of these have been listed at the end of the "Diversity Around the Country" section. What is most important is making diversity a primary and visible theme of pre-freshman and freshman orientation at UR and applying the creativity and resources needed to assure success. Several of the recommendations below are intended as follow through activities, which are meant to build upon and reinforce the messages of the orientation period.
(5) Diversity should be an explicit and high priority theme in Residential Life programming.
Currently, diversity is loosely incorporated into "cultural" programming and often downplayed or ignored. Its importance can and should be significantly increased, beginning with fundamental modifications in RA training. Diversity should become a central theme in the seven two-hour classes RAs are now required to take in the spring semester and in the intensive one-week training program they take in August. RAs must be taught specific, effective and realistic techniques for raising and dealing with diversity issues and must not simply be introduced informationally to the University's "resources" in the area. The RAs themselves are an extraordinarily diverse group and have been overlooked as major learning and teaching resources. Faculty, administrators, student organizations, and the Student Activities Office should all be involved in rethinking Residential Life options.
(6) Incentive funding should be provided to student organizations for co-sponsored "mutual understanding" events.
Students have suggested increased co-sponsorship as a means to improve inter-group and multicultural understanding. Special funds should be set aside above and beyond normal programming funds for jointly sponsored, multi-group activities. A useful device for stimulating cooperative planning would be facilitated retreats involving student leaders from all relevant groups. There are several offices on campus -- such as OMSA, the Interfaith Chapel, and the International Students Office -- that may be able to assist on an ongoing basis, but to have coherent programming additional staff may also have to be added to the Student Activities Office to help stimulate and advise these projects.
(7) The creation of a multicultural center on campus should be given very serious consideration.
During our committee's deliberations there were reports that the University was considering possible new uses for Drama House on the Fraternity Quadrangle. If this option still exists, we recommend that serious explorations be undertaken of the feasibility of converting this structure into a multicultural center; if it does not, other campus locations should be considered. Harvard is debating such a plan, as discussed above in "Diversity Around the Country." In addition to the broader advantages that Harvard has identified and that also underscore our Recommendation (6) above, the experience of other institutions informs us that acknowledging different histories, perspectives, and experiences in this way strengthens the sense of community. The multicultural center could be used to sponsor University-wide events such as Martin Luther King Day, Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and many others, and to stage activities fairs and cultural events multiple times a semester, to give students opportunities to learn about the range of groups and cultures on campus. In a more specific sense, it could also be used for social events by minority student groups, thus possibly avoiding the cost differential in security coverage between Fraternity Quadrangle and May Room parties that has been a major cause of friction in recent months.
(8) Cultural awareness and diversity training should be provided for all University service staff and office personnel.
The purpose here is provide University personnel with additional knowledge and skills as necessary to help them work most effectively with a diverse student body. As part of new-hire orientation and ongoing professional development, cultural awareness and diversity training would be available to the staffs of such offices as the Bursars, Career Center, and Financial Aid and also to Security personnel. In the past, Security officers received more training of this sort than they do currently. Because of budget constraints, the number of hours of this type of training has been "bumped back" to less than 10 in a total of 400 training hours.
(9) There should be much wider and more visible dissemination of a modified version of OMSA's "College Course Listing" on American minority perspectives (African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, and others).
Although the committee could see the merits of a diversity curricular requirement as it currently exists, for example, at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan (see above in the "Diversity Around the Country" section), we decided that a Brown University system of special course designations without a requirement would work better in Rochester's College curriculum. The closest we come currently to Brown's systematic labelling of and thereby calling special attention to "American Minority Perspectives" courses is the "College Course Listing" prepared by our Office of Minority Student Affairs. We propose making the listing of such courses each semester a joint activity of OMSA and the College Curriculum Committee. Copies would be printed at the College's expense and made generally available with registration and course description materials. Students would be officially urged, as at Brown, to give these courses special consideration, and it is hoped that UR students will enroll in these courses in as large numbers as Brown students do.
(10) A revitalized, properly funded and fully supported Frederick Douglass Institute of African and African-American Studies must be assured.
This must be a centerpiece of any realistic diversity plan for the University of Rochester. Our committee looks forward to the work of the special committee recently appointed by Dean LeBlanc under the chairmanship of Professor Larry Hudson, and it applauds the addition of two students to that committee as a result of the agreement reached between MSAB and President Jackson, Provost Phelps, and Dean LeBlanc. As long ago as the mid-eighties, the Frederick Douglass Institute was considered essential in transforming the UR into a more diverse university. Thus far, the Douglass Institute has not realized its full potential as a source of scholarship, curricular innovation, and institutional transformation. For the sake of the University at large and for its faculty, staff and students, we hope that it will now be given the attention and resources it needs to flourish and grow.
(11) Intensive efforts should be undertaken to recruit and retain underrepresented minority faculty in all departments and divisions of The College and University-wide.
The issues surrounding this crucial recommendation have been amply discussed above in both the "Historical Perspective" and "Institutional Audit" sections. The difference now is that the University must act, substantively and not merely symbolically. As a beginning, we strongly urge that the recommendations of the Eaves report be given the attention they richly deserve but have never fully been granted by the University.
(12) Intensive efforts should be undertaken to recruit and retain underrepresented minority administrators and staff at all levels and in all offices of the University.
The University's record here is poor. The present urgency is underscored by the recent departure from the River Campus of three highly visible African American administrators, as discussed in the "Historical Perspective" section above. These departures, combined with recent undergraduate admissions trends, have made it difficult to see the University as moving anywhere but backwards with regard to diversity. Affirmative action measures must now be employed with real aggressiveness. Other universities have certainly made rapid and dramatic progress in this area.
(13) Intensive efforts should be undertaken to recruit and retain underrepresented minority graduate students in all departments and divisions of The College and University-wide.
The University must contribute to the training of future generations of underrepresented minority faculty by nurturing and directing its own talented minority undergraduates towards graduate study and by substantially increasing efforts to recruit top undergraduate minority student from other colleges and universities to graduate study at the University of Rochester. Special attention should be given to such options as an expanded system of undergraduate research fellowships based on the McNair model, incentive funding for underrepresented minority graduate students, and the creation of a support system for graduate students of color.
(14) The University should appoint a new Vice Provost as principal campus diversity officer.
As was abundantly clear in our discussion above, one of the University of Rochester's major problems with diversity initiatives and programs in the past has been their lack of coordination and central oversight. This new administrative position would correct that. The person occupying this position would oversee the diversity "overhaul" of the University in all its facets and serve as the central administrator ultimately in charge of all diversity programming as well as recruitment and retention efforts. This individual could also chair an ongoing "Diversity Oversight Commission," which, like our committee, should be made up of students, staff and faculty. She/he might likewise chair a grants committee which, like the University of Michigan's, might make awards on a competitive basis to faculty, students and staff proposing diversity projects of various sorts.
To be fully effective, the person recruited for this new post would have to be guaranteed adequate budget and staff as well as direct access to the Provost and/or President in order to be able to perform her or his duties. She/he should play a major role in Affirmative Action oversight by working in conjunction with the Provost as Affirmative Action Co-Coordinator for faculty and with the Director of Human Resources as Affirmative Action Co-Coordinator for staff. There is both national and local precedent for such an administrative position. As noted above in "Diversity Around the Country," the University of Michigan has such an administrative officer; locally, the Rochester Institute of Technology announced the creation of such a post in August, 1998. There is also precedent for administrative innovation of this general sort at the University of Rochester, where a new Vice Provost position has just been created for an individual who will oversee stategic planning and operations of academic and administrative computing, network and Internet systems, and telecommunications at the University.
(15) The University should commit at least 1% of its endowment to minority student recruitment efforts.
This simple but dramatic action would translate rhetoric into reality and put minority student recruitment efforts on a stable and solid foundation. The funds could be used for staff, outreach activities, recruitment materials, and, perhaps most important, scholarship support. Several leading colleges and universities -- including Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale -- have recently announced the commitment of large sums to scholarship aid for the children of middle- and low-income families. The commitment of UR's endowment funds should be in addition to aggressively pursued state, federal, and corporate sources of support, and it should not preclude making scholarship support for underrepresented minority students a top development priority.
This list of fifteen recommendations could surely be amended or extended by other individuals or committees. We expect that it will. We offer them here as our best current ideas and primarily as concrete suggestions of ways to start the process of institutional rededication to the cause of diversity. We hope we have, above all, pointed a clear path for the University to follow if it is to catch up with national trends and then get back into a position of leadership in this crucially important area.
Sitting in this tranquil moment, I am recollecting the passions and emotions that now bear the name Report of the Residential College Commission Subcommittee on Diversity. In reflection, I feel nothing but great pride in this RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report to which I contributed. This spontaneous overflow of pride stems from RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report's unwavering advocacy for diversity. RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report's emphasis on the rededication of University of Rochester to diversity through top-supported grassroots efforts imbues me with exhilaration for tomorrow's possibilities. In the year-long audit of University history and institutional policies, we have refined an originally broad question regarding the state of diversity at University of Rochester and defined the most salient and pressing problem at our University - the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities. This amazing one-year effort is further augmented by thorough and bold recommendations to remedy the paucity of underrepresented minorities. I am proud of RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report for questioning the University's commitment to diversity, dialoguing with the community to find a solution and pointing the University toward an important national trend and a clear path on which to proceed. Although RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report seems to have come to a momentary conclusion, focusing only on underrepresented minorities, this conclusion, limited by time and resources, is only temporary. Other issues still demand systematic examination. The problems already identified include but are not limited to:
- Lack of faculty, administration, and student body support of GLBFA.
- University's cool and un-welcoming internal culture toward disabled students and their advocates.
- Lack of recruitment and retention of Asian American faculty members, administrators, and graduate students who may serve as mentors and counselors to Asian American Students.
All of these issues need to be specifically addressed, for the policies and initiatives underlying these problems have direct bearing on University of Rochester's successful realization, "in theory and practice, [of] the goal of a diverse faculty, student body, and staff" (p. 71). To pick up where the RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report left off, I will continue our dialogue on diversity by discussing the need to recruit and retain Asian American faculty members, administrators and graduate students and their role in our University community. Limited even more in time and resources than the RCC Diversity Subcommittee, I will only suggest extensions to the recommendations made in RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report.
During a recent survey of the 1997-1999 University of Rochester Official Bulletin of Undergraduate Studies, I found no more than twenty-five faculty members that have surnames suggesting that they are Asian American. Of these twenty-five, eleven of them appear to be affiliated with the departments of physics, statistics, or the School of Engineering. I counted about thirty-three departments in the Bulletin. Eleven possible Asian American faculty members are distributed among six physics / Engineering departments, while the other fourteen possible Asian American faculty members are spread across twenty-nine official departments. The ratio of possible Asian American faculty to non-physics / Engineering departments is poor. Among the ranks of the administrative officers, there are no Asian Americans. This shortage of Asian American faculty and administrators significantly impacts the Asian American student body. Drawing from the evidence documented in RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report, the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) recounts "that it received good support from Student Activities staff and an occasional faculty member but was frustrated . . . that there was no Asian umbrella organization equivalent to MSAB" (p. 63). The faculty member, in fact, is not Asian American. Given the lack of Asian American faculty and administrative support, it is not surprising that an Asian American umbrella organization equivalent to MSAB does not exist. In light of the paucity of Asian American faculty and administrators, I want to extend the recommendations made by the RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report to include:
1) Intensive efforts should be undertaken to recruit minority (African American, Latino American, Native American, and Asian American) faculty in all departments and divisions of The College and University-wide.
2) Intensive efforts should also be undertaken to recruit minority (African American, Latino American, Native American, and Asian American) administrators and staff at all levels and in all offices of the University.
3) Intensive efforts should in addition be undertaken to recruit minority (African American, Latino American, Native American, and Asian American) graduate students in all departments and divisions of The College and University.
4) An Office of Asian American Minority Affairs, paralleling the student counseling, tutoring and mentoring activities of OMSA, should be funded and supported by the University. This office may also utilize the recruited and retained Asian American faculty members, administrators, and graduate students for student support so that a greater sense of community for Asian Americans at University of Rochester may be fostered.
The importance of mentoring Asian American students by faculty members and graduate students across a range of disciplines is indirectly highlighted by non-Asian American students in asking, "Why are all Asian American students Engineering, Physics, Statistics, or Computer Science majors?" I think the real question should be "Why are there not more Asian American faculty members in English, Psychology, History, Philosophy, Modern Languages / Cultures and Religion / Classics departments?" The recruitment and retention of Asian American faculty members, administrators, and graduate students must become a priority for University of Rochester if similar efforts are taken to recruit and retain underrepresented minority faculty members, administrators, and graduate students. This need is not hard to understand.
As extensively documented and advocated by the RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report:
. . .We believe that our students benefit significantly from education that takes place within a diverse setting. . .As we seek to prepare students for life in the twenty-first century, the educational value of such encounters will become more important not less, than in the past. (p. 3)
These encounters must include relationships between Asian American students, faculty members, administrators, and staff as well as affinities among the numerous communities blessed with nuances of diversity uniquely their own. University of Rochester needs to make "progress in creating the more diverse faculty that will be needed to serve its more diverse student body" (p. 43). It is well understood within the academic community that underrepresented minorities are attracted to schools with a significant population of underrepresented faculty and staff. This knowledge does not make the recruitment of Asian American faculty and staff less important but rather makes underrepresented recruitment more important. The large Asian American student body at University of Rochester demands faculty, administrators and staff who are trained to serve their diverse needs. RCC Diversity Subcommittee Report's underlying rationale emphasizing on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority staff and faculty further supports the need for concurrent recruitment and retention of Asian American faculty, administrators, and graduate students. It becomes obvious as Derek Bok and William B. Bowen, former presidents of Harvard and Princeton, have argued, that University of Rochester will benefit from investing in recruitment of underrepreseted minorities as well as Asian American faculty and staff.
On April 14, 1997, University of Rochester signed and adopted a declaration On the Importance of Diversity in University Admission. In this statement, University of Rochester endorsed a national vision of encounters and interactions that will nourish and support diversity. Diversity and the necessary commitments to the process of achieving it must be supported by the top and moved along by the grassroots. This grassroots movement cannot be limited to the recruitment of underrepresented minority faculty and staff. It makes no sense to argue the benefits of a diversity embracing education for underrepresented minorities and not emphasize likewise for Asian American minorities. Diversity only works if we recognize the intricate inter-dependent relationships among all ethnicities, between both genders, and among our cherished individualities. Only then can we achieve encounters along the whole spectrum of diversity and live in a community that, at present, seems dreamlike. I have faith that someday soon, we will be living that dream, and this place of encounter will be known as University of Rochester.
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