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U of R Releases Final Report from School’s Commission on Race and Diversity

By Staff


university of rochesterThe University of Rochester has released the school’s final diversity report from its Commission on Race and Diversity, which found that, although there has been growth among minority students in the last decade; 40.5 percent of minority students indicate they have experienced bias, discrimination, or harassment, compared to 16 percent of other students at the school.

“In the recent past, all of us have been powerfully reminded that numbers alone are not enough,” University of Rochester president Joel Seligman stated. “The intertwined issues of race and diversity are the most difficult, and most enduring challenges of our nation. We at the University of Rochester have begun to address these issues here. We have far to go.”

In November, Seligman established the commission following several incidents of alleged racism, and racist postings on the social media website Yik Yak that had been directed at African-American students at the school’s Douglass Leadership House.

Students protested after the incident, and demanded the school improve the racial climate on campus.

Here are some additional findings from the commission’s final report:

  • There has been growth in enrollment of underrepresented minority students by approximately 70 percent in the past decade, from 674 (7.6 percent of the total student population) in 2006, to 1,149 (10.4 percent) in 2015.
  • Since 2005, the percentage of underrepresented minorities among the university’s faculty has grown by 125 percent, from 37 (2.6 percent) to 84 (4.3 percent). This is below the 5 percent to 10 percent rate of underrepresented minorities at a set of peer schools.
  • The underrepresented minorities on the school’s staff are most often found in lower-level service and facilities positions, and less commonly in middle management, and more senior staff positions.
  • Underrepresented minority students reported bias, harassment, or discrimination due to socioeconomic status more frequently than other students, 21.74 percent, versus 12.24 percent.
  • Overall, 74  percent of undergraduate students at the college reported having heard insensitive or disparaging racial remarks from their peers. Underrepresented minority students were more likely to report hearing them often.
  • The graduation rate for underrepresented minority students in the college has been volatile, from just below the college’s overall rate in 2006, to only 66 percent for the class entering in 2006, to 75 percent for the most recent classes. Many peer schools also see lower graduation rates for underrepresented minority students, but the gap at the U of R is greater than others. The dean of the college has appointed a task force to look into this persisting gap between the graduation rates of underrepresented minority students, and majority students at the school.

The commission has also offered the following recommendations, to help the school achieve its diversity goals:

  • The president should establish a Presidential Diversity Council, a centralized committee of senior university leaders whom the president will charge with promoting and encouraging the university’s race and diversity activities, and establishing methods of accountability for continued progress.
  • Each school should clearly articulate its programs for recruiting, retaining, and graduating a diverse student body, and for providing a rich and collegial supportive environment.
  • The president should continue to hold the leaders of every school responsible for pursuing clearly articulated plans to attract and retain a diverse faculty.
  • The president should ensure that all areas of the university assign responsibility to those who manage, hire, and promote staff to pursue clearly articulated goals, and to develop plans to attract and retain diverse staff at all levels.
  • The university should continue to create and actively promote a safe and welcoming community that supports learning and understanding of issues of diversity, promotes awareness, and encourages interactions among people and groups from diverse backgrounds.

Seligman said he will be accepting comments from university staff and students until Nov. 10.

The school will make its final decisions regarding the report’s recommendations following the comment period.

Visit to view the full report.

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