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Diversity at LACs

interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
edited September 2009 in Amherst College
Hey, I owed it to you guys to post a list where Amherst shines. This is also from IPEDs, 2006-2007 enrollment data. This is the percentage of non-white and non-US students: the total of Asian American, African American, Latino/a, Native American, and International. I've only included LACs with more than 500 students and more than $100k per student endowment. I also left off Spelman, the one HBCU that matched the criteria because I didn't think 99% African American could really be considered "diverse".

Some of these schools are so white, you almost have to wonder if Bull Conner is blocking the door.
47%	Wellesley College
44%	Swarthmore College
39%	Mount Holyoke College
38%	Occidental College
37%	Amherst College
36%	Pomona College
36%	Williams College
36%	Claremont McKenna College
35%	Harvey Mudd College
35%	Agnes Scott College
33%	Pitzer College
32%	Haverford College
32%	Smith College
32%	Wesleyan University
31%	Macalester College
31%	Randolph College
30%	Bowdoin College
29%	Grinnell College
29%	Berea College
28%	Vassar College
28%	Middlebury College
28%	Austin College
27%	Carleton College
26%	Bryn Mawr College
26%	Scripps College
25%	Reed College
25%	Oberlin College
25%	Drew University
23%	Colgate University
22%	Hamilton College
22%	Southwestern University
21%	Earlham College
21%	Trinity College
20%	Franklin and Marshall College
20%	Dickinson College
19%	University of Richmond
19%	Lafayette College
19%	Colby College
19%	Willamette University
18%	Wabash College
18%	Davidson College
18%	Connecticut College
18%	Skidmore College
17%	Colorado College
17%	College of the Holy Cross
17%	Union College
17%	Goshen College
17%	Centenary College of Louisiana
17%	Beloit College
16%	Kalamazoo College
16%	Bucknell University
16%	Bates College
16%	Wheaton College
16%	Kenyon College
15%	Denison University
15%	DePauw University
15%	Lawrence University
15%	The College of Wooster
15%	Randolph-Macon College
15%	Hollins University
14%	Washington and Lee University
14%	Rhodes College
14%	Wells College
13%	Furman University
13%	Hendrix College
13%	Wheaton College
12%	Sewanee:  The University of the South
11%	Wofford College
11%	Goucher College
10%	Sweet Briar College
10%	St. Olaf College
9%	Berry College
9%	Centre College
9%	Hanover College
9%	Illinois College
9%	Hampden-Sydney College
9%	Washington College
8%	St John's College
7%	Albion College
6%	Transylvania University
Post edited by interesteddad on

Replies to: Diversity at LACs

  • 'rentof2'rentof2 Registered User Posts: 4,327 Senior Member
    The number of science/math majors isn't of any more interest to me that the number of humanities majors at Johns Hopkins or other schools that are tech magnets. However, this, I thought, was a great list... which the Amherst families, as well as the Williams, Swarthmore, Carleton and Wellesley families, can feel justly proud:

    "The Washington Monthly ratings try to measure which colleges do the most for the social good, by improving social mobility, producing research and promoting service.

    The magazine’s College Guide Web site, looks at different indicators than most other ranking systems: the percentage of students getting Pell grants and their graduation rates, the institution’s research spending, its record of B.A. recipients going on to get Ph.D’s or going into the Peace Corps or R.O.T.C., and what percentage of federal work-study funds the institution spends on service.

    By those lights, the top three universities in the nation are all part of the University of California system: Berkeley, San Diego and U.C.L.A. Thirteen of the top 20 national universities are public, while Harvard comes in at number 11, Yale at 23 and Princeton at 28. (In the U.S. News rankings, none of the top 20 national universities are public.)

    Among the liberal arts colleges, most of the top 10 — Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Williams, Harvey Mudd, Haverford, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Carleton and Wellesley — are among the leading colleges in the U.S. News lists, too."

    Rating Colleges by Their Contribution to the Social Good - The Choice Blog - NYTimes.com
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    The Washington Monthly's heart was in the right place, they just picked bad (or limited data). For example their measure of service is very limited in an era when students don't just spend two years in the PeaceCorps, but instead are starting real NGOs while still in college, often with College endowment grants. None of that is captured by the magazine's rather odd "percentage of federal workstudy dollars spent on service". I understand where they are trying to go with that, but it's a very inadequate measure and it's giving them some misleading results.

    I would urge every student interested in community service to go for a campus visit and make an appointment for a tour and chat with the community service center at the college. Of the three east coast LACs, Swarthmore opened its Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsbility back in 2001.

    Swarthmore College :: Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility

    See Eugene Lang:

    "I Have A Dream" Foundation

    Amherst opened its new center in 2007:


    Williams is lagging signficantly in this area with an old-school model of running community service projects out of the chaplin's office on a bit of an ad hoc basis.

    If you know what you are looking for, sometimes you can figure out what a college is doing from the website. Sometimes you can't. Go visit. Talk to students and staff about the kinds of service and engagement students are involved in and what might interest you. The best programs will have students writing grant proposals for their own projects or for summer stipends for service in the US and abroad, thus not only doing service projects, but learning important NGO job skills. The big push is for "service learning" where field opportunities are integrated into course curriculums. That is very difficult to implement. It's easier said than done. Some of the top LACs are on the front-lines of figuring out what works and doesn't work.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    BTW, this iis one case where you must rank Harvard #1 in the country for community service programs. Their Phillip Brooks House Association is the model.

    12 Harvard PBHA Summer Urban Program Camps

    My daughter got Swarthmore grants and private foundation grants to fund her stipend for several summers in these programs. Amherst students interested in these programs should check it out. They have college students from all over, most of them living togther in a Harvard dorm on the river in Cambridge and fanning out to the 12 locations, usually in charter schools taken over for the summer. It's competitive to get the positions, mostly just in terms of convincing the students who do the hiring that you can handle it.
  • EphmanEphman Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    Williams is not "lagging behind" in this area and interrestdad's depiction of community engagement opportunities at Williams is outdated. Here is the community engagement website:

    The Williams College Center for Community Engagement About the Center
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    As I mentioned, websites can have a bit of a Potemkin Village quality. Students interested in community service and civic engagement in college, especially at a level that will train them for professional careers in the field, should dig a little deeper. For example, let's see what the current student President of Williams' community service group Laura Christianson '11 had to say in her student newspaper editorial last October:

    The Williams Record - Archives-Articles
    There simply isn’t enough support in place for people who are interested in community engagement. We have successfully created resource outlets related to sustainability, such as the Center for Environmental Studies and the Zilkha Center for Sustainability. But the Office of Community Engagement, our only outlet for community work, is underfunded and thus underused: it is run by one part-time staff member (Stewart Burns) who works incredibly hard but simply cannot get enough done with his restricted hours and budget. Compare this situation to that of Amherst’s, where there is an endowed, multi-million dollar Center for Civic Engagement that offers information on opportunities in service and social justice and is staffed with eight full-time employees. Their Center facilitates interactions between student groups and community organizations, funds public service internships, offers transportation to local service centers and maintains a “Community Engagement Leader Program,” among other things. And Amherst isn’t alone in making civic engagement a priority: Middlebury, Hamilton and Swarthmore all have similar centers.

    The entire professional staff for community service at Williams consists of one half-time position and whatever time the Chaplan and his administrative assistant can devote. Someone from Amherst can chime in on their program (which looks like it has a solid professional staff to me), but Swarthmore's Lang Center has five full-time staff, including the full-time Director who is a tenured professor and whose last positon was ten years as Dean of Academic Affairs. She replaces the Center's first Director, another tenured full professor who moved over from her position as Provost of the Colege. These are high-power administrators in full-time positions who represent serious institutional weight. In fairness, Eugene Lang has given over $30 million to the college and he has high expectations for the Lang Center.

    The resources of the Lang Center provide support not only for the usual range of local community service activities, but also national and international projects such as:

    War New Radio A weekly syndicated radio/podcast show providing NPR-style human interest coverage of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Lang Center and the College fund faculty support and a full-time mentor -- such a veteran NPR radio producer. War News Radio had gotten so much media coverage that it has become the number one college activity mentioned on applications to the school.

    Pemion Health A small health clinic in Venezuela and winner of a Clinton Global Initiative University Outstanding Commitment grant.

    Genocide Intervention Network A non-profit started by three students while in college that has now raised over $1.5 milliion for genocide relief. Two of its Swarthmore founders have spoken in Clinton Global Initiatives. One of them was a correspondent for MTV who travelled to the Sudan and who has been honored by Glamor magazine as one of the country's top 10 college women.

    [url=http://sanfranciscosaludable.****/who-we-are/]San Francisco Saludable[/url] A non-profit for improved health and sanitation in a village in Peru. Also the winner of a Clinton Global Initiative University Outstanding Commitment grant.

    In addition, the Lang Center is involved nine courses this fall with service learning community-based components and in a service learning study abroad program on peace and conflict resolution in Northern Ireland

    And, the Lang Center is involved in the Lang Visiting Professor program that brings a noted leader in some field of social change to campus to teach. These have ranged from Herbert Kohl (expert on urban education) to Denis Hallday (former head of UN humanitarian programs who resigned in protest against sanctions against Iraq) One recent Lang Professor has just been hired half-time at the Lang Center to build a database of successful case studies of non-violent intervention. This is being offered as a credit seminar to 12 students.

    So when I say that a school is lagging behind the efforts of colleges that have invested in community service centers and have more than one part-time staffer, I don't think I'm exaggerating.
  • EphmanEphman Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    I agree that you shouldn't rely ONLY upon websites, but I think they are more reliable than the oft-debunked claims of a single poster with an agenda (and I obviously have a pro-Williams agenda, so I encourage folks not to rely solely upon me as well!). And the Lang center sounds great, but is a bit of an outlier if it is indeed funded by a 30 million dollar grant; hardly means that Williams is "lagging behind" its peers, in general. I'd rely instead upon a review of the actual community service programs / opportunities available at each school. At Williams, there is funding for service spring break trips. There are many students getting funding for summer internships. A huge percentage of campus is engaged in community service. See more info here:


    And students and recent alums have been every bit as successful over the past as their Swarthmore counterparts in terms of gaining national and international recognition for community service type work (see examples below, which are as impressive as the examples provided by interesteddad). Really, it is more about how much initiative an individual student wants to take ... Williams certainly has the resources available to support any such motivated student, as evidenced by these examples. I note the website I provided that lists the NUMEROUS very active student community service groups, supported by a full time office and the Chaplain's office as well (and frankly, too many administrative employees for something like this could be counterproductive overkill -- isn't the idea to get STUDENTS engaged in leadership roles ... maybe that is why Williams seems to be having just as much success as Swarthmore in terms of winning service awards and sending kids to the peace corp and so on, despite a much smaller administrative support group). I also note Williams very active and well-funded environmental initiative:

    Sustainability At Williams

    And yes, Williams could do better. Yes, you can find a letter to the editor asking for more resources. But you will also find editorials to the Record *****ing about insufficient resources devoted to athletics, notwithstanding interesteddad's constant claim that Williams spends far too much on this area.

    A few examples of recent Williams success/awards in community service / engagement:

    Williams College - Will Bruce '08 Named 2008 Hockey Humanitarian

    Williams College :: News & Events - Press Releases

    Program saves taxpayers $4.8 million | TuscaloosaNews.com | The Tuscaloosa News | Tuscaloosa, AL

    Williams College :: News & Events - Press Releases
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    supported by a full time office

    Was Stewart Burns really upgraded from part-time to full-time despite the selective hiring and wage freeze that has been in effect? According to the website, he is still the only professional staff member of the Center for Community Engagement at Williams. As of last October when endowments tanked, he was part-time. He was included in the press announcement of new administrative positions when he was hired for the part-time position in 2006, but I haven't seen him listed on any subsequent press announcements. Given the student petitition last fall, I would think there would have been an announcement if the position had been upgraded, but I might have missed it.

    I think it great that college students and recent grads from all over the country are involved in the free tax prepartion project, VITA. It's actually sponsored by the IRS, which provides the training to local volunteers. Swarthmore students participate at two two sites in nearby Chester, where they saved taxpapers $250,000 last year. My daughter and a couple of her friends do tax prep for a VITA program in D.C. She went through the IRS course and enjoys the volunteer work. It's a way to give something back to the community on Saturdays.
    if it is indeed funded by a 30 million dollar grant

    That's not what I said!

    Anyway, it's great that Williams has such robust community service and engagment program.
  • Masterus2010Masterus2010 Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    hmm, are asians actually considered URM at Amherst?
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Asian American students were 10.1% of Amherst's student body last year. That's higher than the percentage of Asian Americans in the total US population, so - no - I don't think Amherst considers Asian Amerians as "underpresented minorities", nor does Amherst give affirmative action preferences to Asian Americans, except in the context of other characteristics such as first generation college, low income, etc.

    They are, of course, a vibrant part of an increasingly diverse community at Amherst and at other elite colleges, institutions that that were historically nearly all white even as recently as 50 years ago.
  • CatfishCatfish Registered User Posts: 725 Member
    Someone from Amherst can chime in on their program (which looks like it has a solid professional staff to me)
    The Amherst CCE has 4 full-time staff, an administrative assistant, and a faculty advisor. The director was the founding director of the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts before she came to Amherst to serve as the director full time. The CCE website is here.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Amherst's new Center was referenced repeatedly and positively in the recent report of the Accreditation Visiting Team, not just for its potential to increase student engagement, but also as a vehicle for experiential learning in coursework. This is a real hot-button issue in academic circles these days:
    Experiential Education: An exciting faculty initiative emerged from the Experiential Education Working Paper spawned by the SCAE process and has moved forward rapidly to implementation. With the support of a generous grant directed specifically at the challenge of developing experiential education at Amherst, the College opened the Center for Community Engagement in 2007. This Center builds on the work of several pioneering faculty who have developed significant community-based learning components in their courses. It brings together support for student service activity with a central focus on connecting the academic program with community engagement. In addition to a full-time director and other staff support, the Center has the benefit of a faculty advisor and a small faculty advisory committee.
  • eugene91eugene91 Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    Hello... posting for the first time after lurking a lot here!
    I'm very interested in an East Coast LAC. I visited Amherst like a year ago with my family. It has lots of what I'm looking for. But for a non-elite-type, I mean, not super rich or from a big city, is it like a country club or something? Things looked so careful and polished and the kids seemed really well off. Fancy cars and all that. I know it's not an all upper class school or anything but I'm not looking for four years at anything like a prep school. what do you all think?
  • 'rentof2'rentof2 Registered User Posts: 4,327 Senior Member
    My son is a high-need financial aid recipient, comes from a semi-rural area in Oregon, would not know a designer name if he saw it, has never set foot in a country club (I'm not sure he's even too clear on the concept of what a country club is), owns very, very little (no car, no iPod, no blackberry), but he does have 2 pairs of shoes and a cheapie pre-paid cell phone. He not only didn't go to a prep school (we don't have those here), but he was homeschooled. The only money he has access to is what he earns at his workstudy job. You get the picture. He loves it at Amherst, and he's made friends from many diverse backgrounds -- some wealthy, some very much not-wealthy.

    The class thing is really only a problem if it's a problem for you. There are students from so many different walks-of-life there, that you would blend right in... if you want to.

    That said, my son has heard some really coarse, boorish comments from privileged kids that are clueless, classless, and mean. Not directed at him, but at workers around the school or just stereotypes of working class people. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. It has just made him more aware that a working class hero truly *is* something to be. ;)
  • GA2012MOMGA2012MOM Registered User Posts: 5,440 Senior Member

    I second what 'rentof2 says. My D is FULL FA need at Amherst, and has NO problems with class issues. The diversity of the campus is what makes it so special. She hasn't told me of any of the comments what 'rentof2's son has referred to, but I'm sure she has heard them. What I am happy to hear is the comments that the full freight kids are kind and accepting to those that may be "less fortunate, economically speaking." My D has been welcomed with open arms into their homes when I could not afford to have her home for breaks. I am so greatfull for the Amherst community.

    Oops, sorry, so off topic! :)
This discussion has been closed.