Making strides in diversity and inclusion on campuses

Ethnic minority enrollment, retention, graduates on the rise, but still more to be done

When calculating the percentage of ethnic minority students attending Colorado public four-year colleges, the University of Colorado is No. 1: CU educates 32 percent of the minority students enrolled in the state’s public four-year higher education institutions, followed by Metropolitan State University of Denver at 27 percent. In presenting the annual diversity report to the CU Board of Regents at its Friday meeting at CU-Boulder, CU diversity officers said leading the way is good, but not good enough.

“We can see that CU is doing its share,” said Kee Warner, associate vice chancellor for diversity at UCCS. “But there’s much more work to be done to really meet the needs of the state by the University of Colorado and the rest of the institutions.”

The diversity report tracks the inclusion of minorities at the University of Colorado through enrollment, retention, graduation rates and faculty composition.

All campuses have increased their minority student populations in recent years. Undergraduate enrollment in fall 2012 included:

  • CU-Boulder: 4,808 (19 percent) – a 1 percent increase from 2011 and 5 percent increase from 2003
  • UCCS:  2,107 (26 percent) – a 2 percent increase from 2011 and 8 percent increase from 2003
  • CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus: 3,463 (34 percent) – a 2 percent increase from 2011 and 7 percent increase from 2003

Of new resident freshmen in 2012, the minority student population at CU-Boulder was 26.3 percent; UCCS, 32 percent; and CU Denver | Anschutz Medical, 52 percent.

Bob Boswell, vice chancellor for diversity at CU-Boulder, said, “If we look at our graduation rates for underrepresented students, we’re the highest of all the public institutions in Colorado.” Boswell said the goal is to increase minority graduation and retention rates by 1 percent each year over the next five years.

Diversity officers outlined plans to bolster minority enrollment, retention and graduation including expanding pre-collegiate programs, aptitude testing before a student is placed in difficult courses, advising and tracking student progress using technology, accessing and educating communities that are new to the college culture, and putting less emphasis on high school GPAs and more emphasis on other criteria, including high school teacher and counselor referrals.

“We are taking a systemic, strategic and sustainable approach to thinking about diversity and inclusion that really needs to capture trends in higher education overall and in particular scholarship about diversity and inclusion,” said Brenda Allen, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at CU Denver.

Regent Michael Carrigan noted, “We’re making steady progress, although much slower than anyone wants.”

One-year retention rate by campus:
Minority White
CU-Boulder 82% 84%
UCCS 63% 66%
CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus 75% 67%
Six-year graduation percentages by campus in 2012:
Minority White
CU-Boulder 62% 68%
UCCS 46% 47%
CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus 45% 44%