The University of Washington’s president Ana Mari Cauce says although the school has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment and diversity among students, such as Latinos and blacks, there still are improvements to be made.
The main Seattle campus has a fall enrollment of more than 45,000. Latinos make up 7 percent of the Seattle campus. The Bothell and Tacoma campuses have about 5,700 and 5,000 students — more than fellow state school, the Evergreen State College.
Cauce wants more diversity — and she points to the fact that 22 percent of students at the state’s K-12 schools last year were Latino as evidence the university needs to do better in encouraging those students to continue their education. Efforts such as the Brotherhood Initiative — which recruits and retains male students of color — and Early Identification Program will help achieve that goal.
But diversity also should extend beyond the student body into the faculty, Cauce acknowledged. Just 4 percent of faculty at the university’s three campuses were Latino last fall, according to UW data. Asian faculty made up a higher percentage — 14 percent.
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The Early Identification Program addresses faculty diversity by helping underrepresented students get resources and assistance in finding a potential pathway to graduate programs that could lead to professor jobs. A more diverse personnel can equal more mentoring among diverse students, Cauce said.
“Seeing people that look like them, know their experiences and where they come from, does make a difference,” she said.
Cauce, 60, who emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba as a child, was named university president a year ago this week. Hired by the university in 1986, she rose through the ranks to become UW’s first permanent female and Latina president.
She holds bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology from the University of Miami and a doctorate in psychology from Yale University.
Despite beliefs to the contrary, a majority of in-state students who apply to UW are accepted, she said. About one-third of in-state applicants are denied admission, a rate much lower than out-of-state and international students.
Accepting more in-state students would be desirable, but the university doesn’t have the capacity to handle the increased enrollment, she said. So, open admission programs, which guarantee in-state students who meet certain criteria acceptance, wouldn’t work at UW.
Those type of programs are used by some public colleges and universities, such as Arizona State, which have significantly more resources and more campuses. By way of comparison, Arizona State has five physical campuses and one online school. Washington has three campuses.
But closer to home, Heritage University, which has an enrollment of less than 1,000 undergraduates and focuses on serving unrepresented populations such as minority and low-income students, has an open admissions program.