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Diversity leaders see room for growth in campus culture



ast fall, 36 freshmen self-reported that they came to Franklin College from a multicultural background—an increase of only one student compared to the incoming class of 2016. In an effort to increase campus diversity, college leaders are developing strategies to recruit more students of diverse backgrounds in the future. “To recruit a diverse class, we have to be a campus that appreciates diversity, and I think the college has made strides in doing that, diversifying staff and faculty,” said Kate Coffman, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid. “I think students want to come to a campus where they see themselves, where they see that there’s going to be an authentic experience.” It’s difficult to gauge the exact population of students with multicultural backgrounds at Franklin College, said Denise Baird, associate provost and professor of sociology, because students are not obligated to report details relating to sexual orientation, religious affiliation or other personal information. Race, however, is reported. In 2016, 83.9 percent of students on campus identified as white according to the National Center



for Education Statistics. About 14 percent identified as black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaskan Narive or two or more races, while nearly 1 percent identified as “non-residential alien.” The remaining 1.9 percent is unknown. The college’s admissions office is analyzing its tactics to ensure students of diverse backgrounds are being reached. “The admissions team takes a look at where are there large populations of multicultural students,” Coffman said. “And then we do a variety of activities to reach those students.” When high school students take the SAT or ACT, or visit a college-planning website, they typically grant permission for their name to be sold to colleges across the country, Coffman said. Franklin is one of several colleges to purchase a new pipeline of names each year. Admissions counselors also partner with community-based organizations that work with multicultural students like the Center for Leadership Development, an Indianapolis-based organization that provides professional development opportunities to minorities. More recent partnerships include Starfish, a group that promotes college access

and readiness to youth in poverty, and the Indiana Latino Institute, which advocates for health and education among Latino Hoosiers. “Through the partnerships, they bring their students to Franklin for different activities or tours and we can hopefully help them see what Franklin has to offer,” Coffman said. She acknowledged that recruiting diverse students does not only involve multicultural enrollment. The college also focuses on aspects like out-of-state enrollment, major preferences and students who may be interested in programs the college is developing, she said. Marketing also plays a vital role in recruiting students, especially of diverse backgrounds, because it can showcase the positive experiences multicultural students are having on campus, Coffman said. However, the experiences must be honest. “It can’t create a situation that’s not true or authentic,” she said. “So then once you have those things in place on campus—and I think Franklin is still making progress in those areas—then marketing can reflect that.” Just as marketing helps to bring in more diverse students, the Office of Diversity

Profile for The Franklin

The Franklin: Feb. 16, 2018  

The Franklin: Feb. 16, 2018