UCR Hosts Panel Discussion On Increasing Diversity at California’s Public Colleges

Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, addresses issues of diversity and inclusion in California’s colleges

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – California’s public colleges and universities are among the most diverse institutions of higher education in the world. But despite their diversity, gaps in access and success persist for students of color and campus faculty and senior leadership don’t reflect the racial and gender diversity of the students according to a report released as part of a panel discussion hosted by the University of California, Riverside on Friday, March 2.

The Campaign for College Opportunity, a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization focused on helping all Californians have the opportunity to attend and succeed in college, hosted the panel discussion to address issues of diversity and inclusion in California’s colleges and to publicly release their new report titled, “Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students, and Our Economy.”

Siquerios speaks about the power of students seeing people that look like them on campus, and the importance of faculty and leadership who can relate to students of color

Among the report’s findings is the insight that while California’s three systems of public higher education—California Community Colleges, California State University, University of California—all have enrollments consisting of roughly 70 percent students of color, the tenured faculty and senior leadership are only 33 percent and 39 percent people of color respectively. Likewise, while 54 percent of California’s college students are female, 47 percent of tenured faculty and 43 percent of system executives are female. The report concludes that improving diversity among faculty and senior leadership plays a key role in making sure all students have the opportunity to succeed at California’s colleges and universities.

Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, said that UCR was chosen as the site of the panel discussion because of its standing as one of the most diverse campuses in California. In addition to enrolling a broadly diverse student body, UCR enjoys a diverse senior leadership. Out of UCR’s 25 most senior campus leadership positions, 12 are women and 12 are people of color. LGBTQ communities are represented among campus leadership and UCR is one of only a dozen Division I programs to have a women of color serving as athletic director.

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox leads opening remarks, addressing UCR’s commitment to diversity and inclusion

The event began with welcome remarks by UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox who reaffirmed UCR’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and expressed that responsibility and accountability are critical factors in improving diversity, especially at the senior leadership levels. Speaking about the collective responsibility to improve opportunity for California’s students, Wilcox said, “If we don’t all own the state of the world then it’s never going to change.”

Following Wilcox’s remarks, Siqueiros presented the report findings and then joined the panel discussion, which also included Robert Teranishi, professor or education at UCLA; Devon Graves, student regent-designate for the University of California; and Milagros Peña, dean of UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Marcela Ramirez, an associate instructor in the UCR Graduate School of Education, served as moderator.

During the panel discussion, Dean Peña remarked that a key strategy to improving faculty and leadership diversity begins with the current students. “The students are here . . . but only 6 percent of students of color are getting Ph.D.’s,” Peña remarked. “How do we make the pipeline so big, that we make it impossible for people to say, ‘Well where are they?’ because the challenge for every campus is about having students go from undergrad to higher ed and moving students into doctoral programs so that we can fulfill our purpose and our mission all the way up to the top.”

Madeline Adamo contributed to this report.

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