UC Regents Are Frustrated That Campuses Haven’t Made Bigger Strides on Diversity

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2016

University of California regents Wednesday bemoaned what they called disappointing progress on efforts to increase diversity among students and faculty at the system’s 10 campuses.

Last month, UC officials announced a 36.7% increase in admissions offers to Latinos and a 31.9% jump in offers to African Americans. Those improvements were part of a significant boost in admissions of California students.

Overall, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in freshman classes across UC campuses has nearly doubled in the last 15 years, from 15% in 1999 to 28% in 2014.

But UC officials who presented an annual report on diversity to regents at their three-day meeting here acknowledged making less progress with graduate students and faculty. In the fall of 2014, the percentage of African American tenure-track faculty members at UC campuses ranged from 2% to 4%, and for Latinos it was 2% to 12%.

Regent John A. Perez challenged those figures. Many Latino faculty members are international scholars, not Americans, he said. That means the true number of underrepresented minorities is actually lower than UC officials claimed.

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UC President Janet Napolitano said that increasing diversity was a critically important goal that she discussed with chancellors every month and addressed through numerous efforts.

Some regents were clearly unaware of these efforts, however. One of them suggested that UC “adopt” high schools to help students become more competitive college applicants. UCLA is doing just that with 20 campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Napolitano suggested that diversity become a standing item for discussion at every regents meeting, not just the subject of an annual report.

“We need guidance, direction and insight about what more we could and should be doing,” she said.

The UC president also announced a new effort to provide about $25 million over the next three years to support the roughly 3,000 to 3,500 students who are in the country illegally and are not eligible for federal financial aid.

The funding includes $5 million a year for loans, $2.5 million for fellowships, staff support, textbooks and other needs and $900,000 for campus-based legal service centers to aid students and their families with immigration issues.

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“We are building a firm path forward for undocumented students at the university,” Napolitano said.

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