University of Delaware Mounts Effort to Increase Racial Diversity

African Americans make up just 5.2 percent of the undergraduate study body at the University of Delaware. Blacks are 3.4 percent of all graduate students at the state’s flagship university. Slightly more than 4 percent of the faculty at the university are African Americans. In contrast, African Americans make up 21 percent of the state’s population.

After the Middle States Commission on Higher Education called out the university for its lack of racial diversity, the board of trustees of the University of Delaware voted to increase institutional efforts to correct the situation. The President’s Diversity Initiative will develop plans for recruiting more minority students and faculty members. The board also created the Center for the Study of Diversity that will investigate the campus climate for racial minorities.

James M. Jones, professor of psychology and Black American studies at the university, will serve as director of the new center. Dr. Jones is a graduate of Oberlin College. He earned a master’s degree from Temple University and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Yale University.


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    I congratulate Professor James M. Jones for his appointmentment as director of the new center at the University of Delaware. We need to increase the numbers of African-American males and females at the university.

    Even more important is the urgent need to retain at least 70% of black students who enroll at the university, and ensure that number graduate. The new center, under Professor Jones is timely in this regard. I have no doubt that the Professor will design and devise strategies that will increase retention and graduation rates of black students at Delaware in the coming years.

    The number one variable is that students have academic skills to successfully navigate the intellectual demands of the course. Students’ comprehension, analytic, evaluative, and writing skills need to be brought up to the level of their university courses. The center will play an important role in this area.

    The second key variable that has been shown by research to increase retention rate is to ensure that students in their freshman year at Delaware live on the campus. Those who live off campus must be monitored and supported from day one. They are the ones must likely to drop out from the university.

    The third key variable is to ensure that students in their freshman year are participating fully in extra-curricular activities at the university.

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