During his inaugural State of the University address on Sept. 13, Slippery Rock University President William Behre said that the University’s administration was currently in the process of allocating $400,000 for diversity scholarships for underrepresented students. The funds would be available at $100,000 per year over the next four years. In our view, The Rocket Staff believes that this is a great first step for Behre’s administration to take towards supporting diversity on our campus but it is still only a first step.
After the address, Behre explained the request for these funds came from Dr. Amanda Yale, associate provost for Enrollment Management at the university. Yale originally specified an annual year mark of $150,000.
“We haven’t quite hit her mark yet,” Behre said. “And we still might in the budget. I just only have been able to identify that first hundred-thousand.”
Behre said he had not read the specifics of Yale’s request, but he, along with his administration, will continue to look for money within the University’s budget to help fund diversity scholarships.
According to 2017 data, SRU remains predominantly white (85.8 percent) and while the administration has claimed in the past to be focused on increasing diversity on campus, statistics show that the University fails to reach the national diversity average of 20 percent.
At the moment Slippery Rock’s ranks the 2,087 most ethnically diverse college in the United States, in between Eureka College and Indiana Wesleyan University, according to college factual. The statistics from the University’s 2017 fact book show that 14.2 percent of the student body at SRU is identified as a member of a minority group, roughly 6 percent less than the national average.
According to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) website, the Board of Governors recognized a plan to help promote diversity across all of the schools within the state’s colleges 14 universities.
The press release states that the PASSHE system wants to focus on the recruitment and retention of minorities, encouraging a more welcoming environment across the campuses of PASSHE schools, diversifying the leadership within the PASSHE system, and monitoring diversity strategies through qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The biggest hit the PASHEE system took from 2008 to 2017 was to those who identified as white. In the Fall of 2008, 81 percent (91,607) of students identified as white. However, that number dropped significantly (5 percent) by 2017 with 77,776 students across the PASSHE system identifying as white.
In 2008, 8,800 (8 percent) of the students enrolled in PASSHE schools were identified as black. By 2017, that number jumped to 10,278 (10 percent). Just 2,600 (2 percent) of all students within the PASHEE system in 2008 identified as Hispanic/Latino. By the fall of 2017, that number increased by 4 percent (5,621). While these numbers over the entirety of the state system look promising, the numbers here at Slippery Rock were not as exciting. From 2013 to 2017 the percentage of Hispanic/ Latino students at Slippery Rock rose only 0.2 percent and the percentage of the campus population who identified as black actually dropped 0.1 percent.
Dr. Behre has made it clear that his administration is committed to increasing diversity on campus at the first state of the university address, and we at The Rocket hope to see this trend continue throughout his years with the university.