Minority student enrollment still short of goal, but faculty is up

Julie Rule

Although Iowa State has surpassed its goal for the number of minority faculty members, the administration is still falling short of its goal for minority student enrollment.

The goal for minority faculty is 10 percent of the ISU faculty population, and the goal for minority students is 8.5 percent, according to the ISU Fact Book. While the minority faculty rate was at 12 percent in fall 1999, minority student enrollment was only at 6.7 percent.

“We are hard at work on that, and I am optimistic that we will in time achieve those goals,” said ISU President Martin Jischke.

Marc Harding, director of Admissions, said minority recruitment is a procession of connecting with students.

“Recruitment is all about building relationships, so to recruit a student, you want to build a relationship with the university,” he said.

One recruitment method, he said, is Telstars, a group of ISU students who call prospective students and answer their questions about Iowa State.

“It helps the student feel at ease that there’s someone like them at Iowa State,” he said.

Staff members go to high schools across the country, including places with a large minority population.

They also recruit National Achievement Scholars, who are outstanding African-American students, and National Hispanic Scholars. The George Washington Carver Scholarship is also available to African-American students.

“People know [Carver] worldwide,” he said. “He really represents access and what Iowa State can offer a student.”

Jischke said there are several reasons why it is important for Iowa State to have a diverse faculty population.

“I think that first, we are a public university, and we ought to reflect the public that supports us, and that means having diversity in our faculty and staff,” he said. “Second, I believe it is important to the education of our students that they have classroom experiences that are diverse, that bring diversity into that experience, both in the student body as well as the faculty and staff.”

Jischke also said it is important to prepare students for the future as curriculum is developed.

“Different experiences, different background, different cultures, different views are represented,” he said. “I think it’s one measure of the excellence of the university.”

Jischke said multiculturalism in the university helps to attract a more varied group of students.

“I believe our university community is enriched by having a wide diversity of persons in that community,” he said. “It certainly makes Iowa State a more inviting institution for a more diverse student body.”

ISU Provost Rollin Richmond agreed having minority faculty members betters students.

“Students benefit from having the perspective of all of our society, not just a subset of it,” he said.

He said the university has an “ethical responsibility to provide an opportunity for [minority] scholars to apply their trade.”

Richmond said methods used in recruiting minority faculty include using contacts at other universities as well as “standard advertising techniques,” such as advertising in national education and scientific journals.

“The most effective way is to use personal contacts around the country,” he said. “It is most effective to have a network of people — to know someone who knows someone who might be interested in moving.”

Harding said the United States is becoming more heterogeneous, and students will likely be going to cities with large minority populations after graduation.

“It’s to all students’ advantage to have an ethnically diverse community here,” he said. “I think Iowa State is starting to shine a very positive light on its minority recruitment and retention.”

He also said the administration plans to continue working on minority recruitment in the future.

“We plan to continue doing whatever we can to attain and enroll and obtain a diverse student body,” Harding said.