Despite the decrease in the percentage of minority students on campus over the past three years, Temple remains the second most diverse university in the country, according to the 2006 edition of the Princeton Review’s The Best 361 Colleges.
“It tells you how low diversity is at other institutions,” said Rhonda Brown, vice president of the new Office of Multicultural Affairs. “The folks we’re being compared to, their numbers are significantly worse than ours.”
In a recent interview with The Temple News, President David Adamany said citing declining percentages is a “dangerous thing.” He said Temple ranks in the top five of the most popular universities where blacks receive their bachelor’s degrees.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful record of access to minority students,” Adamany said.
Brown said she is amazed and constantly reminded of Temple’s diversity. Brown said at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a director of the Office of Institutional Equity, diversity was scarce.
“Temple and Notre Dame are very different schools,” Brown said. “Temple’s urban, Notre Dame is not urban at all. If you walk down Liacouras Walk, you know the type of personalities you will see. If you were at Notre Dame, you wouldn’t see a tenth of that diversity. You may see one or two minority athletes. You would not see the same numbers, and certainly not the religious diversity.
“[Notre Dame has] a population that is very homogenous; they all sort of look like they came from a J. Crew catalog.”
Last fall, 31 percent of Temple students were a race other than white. Diana Massiera, a freshman international student from Africa, said she came to Temple last January because it’s a big university and a Temple degree is recognized anywhere in Africa.
“When you walk on campus you see people of all kinds; different nationalities, people speaking their own languages. You see it all the time,” Massiera said.
According to the Princeton Review, Virginia’s George Mason University was the most diverse university in 2004, with 1,710 international students and 26.8 percent minority students.
Brown wants the OMCA to be “an integral part of Temple.”
“I want anything that affects multiculturalism to come through this office,” Brown said. “I want the office to be used by all facets of the Temple community – a place where everyone has a niche for all their issues.”
Brown said some of the goals of the OMCA include student mentoring, increasing the number of women and minorities in faculty and administration and increasing the number of women and minority-owned businesses represented in university construction projects.
Senior Ben Amis said he thinks there are fewer minorities on campus than there were in the past.
“I’m proud that we’re second, but my freshman year there were a lot more minorities, and as I’ve been here it’s gotten to be more and more white,” Amis said. “It looks like we’re trying to follow the trends of La Salle, St. Joe’s, Drexel and Penn.”
Brown said she’s pleased that Temple is ranked second in diversity, but is aware that more needs to be done. She said she hopes to have the office fully staffed with its four directors by spring to begin developing programs.
One program Brown plans on implementing is a mentor program to help increase the retention rate. This program will include an upperclassman that will mentor two or three freshmen students who may have a difficult time dealing with their first-year in school.
The mentor will guide the students through what Brown calls the academic jungle, and help keep them become engaged in school. Students will also receive a faculty adviser that will help them with academic issues. She is also hoping to work with more local alumni and allow them to be mentors.
Brown would also like alumni to help recruit minority students. Temple should consider investing more time recruiting students from significant metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Brown said, as well as Philadelphia.
“We need to broaden our market and redefine ourselves with the existing market,” she said.
Hannah Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charmie R. Snetter contributed to this report.