University Business - September 2012 - (Page 20)

viewpoint Winners All When diversity begets diversity By Timothy P. White e all want to be winners. That trait is truly universal. But as U.S. higher education increasingly recruits students across international lines, how do we overcome challenges of language, culture, and academic preparedness to ensure that, while some win, others do not lose? This question reflects one theme of the British Council’s sixth annual Going Global conference, which I attended in London in March. With 1,500 people from 80 countries, it explored how education can change the world’s future by shaping and connecting its citizens’ lives. Keynote speaker Homi Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard, spoke eloquently about the “aspirational spirit” of becoming a world civilization while, at the same time, maintaining individual cultures so as to maximize diversity. Education will become more about how to process—or interpret—information rather than factual mastery, he argued. As a way of maintaining cultural values while gaining a world outlook, we must not undervalue the role of the humanities in medicine, the law, business, and other disciplines. Technology alone won’t create the global society we seek; it will develop through collaborative dialogue and a convergence of ideas, values, and innovations. At the University of California, Riverside, we are a microcosm for these issues. We’re only now assuming international diversity, but we long ago achieved ethnic and racial diversity. Our success and lessons learned in that arena will guide us as we expand our international diversity from its current 1.5 percent at the undergraduate level, to 8 to 10 percent by 2015. W Technology alone will not create the global society we seek. The challenge lies in overcoming those issues of geography, culture, language, and academic preparedness that go handin-hand with internationalization, while at the same time retaining the unique cultural identities that make up our student population. And in that sphere, we have some experience. DiveRsifiCation anD stUDent sUCCess UCR has ranked in the top handful of public universities for its diversity by U.S. News and World Report. In this context, diversity means ethnic and racial diversity. Underrepresented groups make up 38 percent of our student body, up from 13 percent in 1990. Another 40 percent of our students are Asian American. Nearly 50 percent of our undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. In the ’90s, our rapid growth, combined with rapid diversification, led to challenges. While these new students were technically eligible for a University of California education, their high school experience left them less academically prepared than their peers. Others came from homes where another language was spoken, so they struggled with English in the classroom. Many first-generation students had no role models so they felt bewildered, isolated, and unsure where to turn for help. Initially, some faculty resented teaching students who were less academically prepared for the coursework and reluctant to change their methods. But the tidal wave of growth and diversity changed the shape of our landscape, and the UCR student success initiative was born: • We expanded tutoring, mentoring, and other academic support programs. • We celebrated diversity throughout the university, from our flavors in the dining hall to promotions in athletics to arts programs that include Taiko drums, a Javanese Gamelan, and Peruvian panpipes. • We revamped student advising—creating a professional track for advising staff and engaging more faculty in the process of knowing exactly where our students were culturally. • We created special-interest housing to bring together students of similar interests and majors. For example, students can choose if they want to practice their Spanish on Mundo Hall or place themselves among the most studious on the Honors Hall. This enhanced learning while providing social support. Our domestic students succeeded, stayed in school, and graduated, so we can say that we succeeded. Timothy P. White is chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. He was an invited panelist at the British Council’s “Going Global” conference in London. 20 | September 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - September 2012

University Business - September 2012
Editor’s Note
College Index
Ad Index
Behind the News
Independent Outlook
Financial Aid
Virtual Viewbooks: Ready? Or Not?
Technology Changes Everything
Connecting Learners, On Campus and Off
The Changing Face of the CIO
Efficiency Greats
The Administrator's Bookshelf
Oceans of Data
Education Innovators
Internet Technology
End Note

University Business - September 2012