For the past five years, Columbia University in New York City has had the highest percentage of Black freshman students among the 30 highest-ranking universities in the nation. There are 174 Black freshmen at Columbia this year. They make up 12.5 percent of the first-year class.
In the 2010-11 academic year, there were 202 Black first-year students at Columbia. They made up 14.5 percent of the first-year students. This was the highest percentage of Black students in the entering class at a leading research university in the history of the JBHE annual survey of incoming Black students at the nation’s highest-ranked universities. Only six years earlier in 2004, Blacks made up only 6.8 percent of the entering students.
Columbia has made significant strides in increasing the racial diversity of its undergraduate student body. Now Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost John H. Coatsworth have announced a plan to increase the diversity of Columbia’s faculty.
In a letter to the university community, the two leaders stated, “A diverse university community is essential to achieving academic excellence. Indeed, fostering the uninhibited exploration of competing ideas and beliefs — expressed by people of different backgrounds and perspectives — makes possible the distinct brand of scholarship, learning, research, and public service that are Columbia’s reason for being.”
Columbia is devoting $30 million in an effort to increase the number of woman and underrepresented minorities on its faculty. Half of the amount will come from the university’s central budget while $15 million is being contributed by individual schools that make up the university community.
In addition to providing funds for the recruitment of new faculty, the provost’s Office of Academic Planning will work with schools to design and implement mentoring and professional development programs for junior faculty; create training materials for search committees; and exchange information on best practices.