Princeton University Endorses Plan to Make Campus More Diverse

Kelly Heyboer, NJ, September 12, 2013

It has been nearly 50 years since Princeton University began admitting women and actively recruiting minority students, but the school is still too white and too male, according to a new report that calls for big changes on the Ivy League campus.

Christopher Eisgruber, the university’s new president, and the school’s board of trustees signed off today on a series of recommendations by a campus committee convened to take a hard look at campus diversity.

The 19-member group found that Princeton has made great strides in welcoming minorities, women and low-income students into its undergraduate classes in recent decades. But the rest of the school—including graduate programs, faculty and top administrators—still lacks diversity.

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Princeton’s undergraduate Class of 2016 is the most diverse in the school’s history, with nearly half of the class made up of women and more than 40 percent of the students from minority racial groups. But the other parts of Princeton are not nearly as diverse. White males still make up the majority of the faculty and graduate students in many departments, the report said.

For example, the committee found just 3 percent of doctoral students and 1 percent of postdoctoral fellows at Princeton identified themselves as black. Similarly, Hispanics make up just 2 percent of Princeton’s full professors and senior administrators. Only 22 percent of associate and full professors are women.

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Eisgruber said the university will adopt the committee’s recommendations and change its strategy for increasing diversity. Campus departments will have more freedom and responsibility for creating diversity in their ranks. The university will also provide more resources and monitor progress to hold the school accountable.

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The report cited a successful program in Princeton’s molecular biology department that increased the percentage of minority students in the doctoral program from 3 percent to 23 percent over five years as a possible model for other programs.

But Princeton was forced to undertake that initiative by new requirements imposed by the National Institutes of Health, a federal body that funds college research. Those new requirements are “an example of increasingly common federal diversity mandates, which are only likely to intensify in coming years,” the report said.

The announcement of Princeton’s new diversity initiative came two days after U.S. News and World Report ranked the school the top national university in its annual rankings.

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