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Diversity Statement by Universities & Colleges

On the Importance of Diversity in Higher Education

America's colleges and universities differ in many ways. Some are public, others are independent; some are large urban universities, some are two-year community colleges, others small rural campuses. Some offer graduate and professional programs, others focus primarily on undergraduate education. Each of our more than 3,000 colleges and universities has its own specific and distinct mission. This collective diversity among institutions is one of the great strengths of America's higher education system, and has helped make it the best in the world. Preserving that diversity is essential if we hope to serve the needs of our democratic society.

Similarly, many colleges and universities share a common belief, born of experience, that diversity in their student bodies, faculties, and staff is important for them to fulfill their primary mission: providing a quality education. The public is entitled to know why these institutions believe so strongly that racial and ethnic diversity should be one factor among the many considered in admissions and hiring. The reasons include:

Diversity enriches the educational experience. We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.

It promotes personal growth and a healthy society. Diversity challenges stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking; and it helps students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.
It strengthens communities and the workplace. Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions.
It enhances America's economic competitiveness. Sustaining the nation's prosperity in the 21st century will require us to make effective use of the talents and abilities of all our citizens, in work settings that bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

American colleges and universities traditionally have enjoyed significant latitude in fulfilling their missions. Americans have understood that there is no single model of a good college, and that no single standard can predict with certainty the lifetime contribution of a teacher or a student. Yet the freedom to determine who shall teach and be taught has been restricted in a number of places, and come under attack in others. As a result, some schools have experienced precipitous declines in the enrolment of African-American and Hispanic students, reversing decades of progress in the effort to assure that all groups in American society have an equal opportunity for access to higher education.

Achieving diversity on college campuses does not require quotas. Nor does diversity warrant admission of unqualified applicants. However, the diversity we seek, and the future of the nation, do require that colleges and universities continue to be able to reach out and make a conscious effort to build healthy and diverse learning environments appropriate for their missions. The success of higher education and the strength of our democracy depend on it.

Endorsements

AACSB - The International Association for Management Education

ACT (formerly American College Testing)

American Association for Higher Education

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

American Association of Community Colleges

American Association of Dental Schools

American Association of State Colleges and Universities

American Association of University Professors

American College Personnel Association

American Council on Education

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

American Medical Student Association

American Society for Engineering Education

APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers

Association of Academic Health Centers

Association of American Colleges and Universities

Association of American Law Schools

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of American Universities

Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities

Association of Community College Trustees

Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

College and University Personnel Association

Educational Testing Service

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

National Association of College and University Business Officers

National Association of Graduate and Professional Students

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges

NAWE: Advancing Women in Higher Education

The College Board

The College Fund/UNCF

The Education Trust

University Continuing Education Association

and others.