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Colleges

January 31, 2001 2 min read

Campus Diversity: The James Irvine Foundation, a San Francisco-based philanthropy, has targeted $5 million toward helping colleges and universities in California address issues of ethnic diversity on campus.

The grants are part of the foundation’s Campus Diversity Initiative, a program that helps independent colleges and universities increase the number of minority faculty members, raise the retention rate for underrepresented students, and encourage students of color to enroll in a wider distribution of majors.

Occidental College in Los Angeles will receive $2 million— the largest grant that the foundation has ever made to a liberal arts college—to increase the number of students studying abroad, support a new intercultural community center, and provide minority Ph.D.s with faculty fellowships.

Robert Shireman, the foundation’s program director for higher education, said that Occidental College is committed to making student enrollment, faculty, and curriculum reflect the diversity of California. “We wanted to recognize and reinforce that commitment,” Mr. Shireman said.

Other awards include $1.5 million to the Claremont Graduate University to recruit a more diverse faculty. Dominican University in San Rafael will receive $750,000 to hire a new director of diversity and reshape the school’s science curriculum.

“California today is the setting of a demographic revolution,” said Dennis A. Collins, the president and chief executive officer of the Irvine Foundation. “Yet higher education in the state hasn’t reflected that diversity as well as it should.”

The foundation also announced a three-year, $800,000 grant to support the Diversity Scorecard project, an effort by a new coalition of 12 public and private colleges in Los Angeles.

The project, coordinated by researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, will create a scorecard of measures related to access, retention, and academic achievement for underserved minority students. The schools will use those scorecards to pinpoint weaknesses and draft strategies for improvement.

Other campus-diversity grants awarded by the foundation include $2.2 million to the California Institute of Technology and a $1 million grant to Harvey Mudd College. Those grants will be used for programs in the hard sciences, fields that traditionally have attracted relatively few minority students.

Since starting the Campus Diversity Initiative in 1987, the Irvine Foundation has awarded 45 grants, totaling nearly $30 million, to 24 institutions.

—John Gehring

A version of this article appeared in the January 31, 2001 edition of Education Week

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