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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA works to boost diversity

    A UA event meant to attract high-achieving minority students drew more than three times as many people than last year, event organizers said.

    UA admissions workers hosted students from around the state for the Peter and Pat Likins Day for Outstanding Minority Seniors on Saturday in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    Catalina Carlos, a counselor in minority student recruitment, said her department doubled the number of student assistants from eight to 16 in the past year. She said those workers had tremendous impact on the number of high school students who showed up to the day’s events.

    Seven hundred students attended this year, compared to 200 from last year, Carlos said.

    Sylvia Islas, a senior at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, said she came for the opportunity to network.

    The look and size of campus impressed her a lot, and she said she has definite plans to begin taking classes at the UA in the fall.

    Former President Peter Likins said he thinks attracting students of varying backgrounds is an important part of making the UA a successful institution.

    “”You can’t be a white, male university and succeed in America,”” Likins said. “”Diversity is an essential element of excellence.””

    Lori Tochihara, the event’s organizer and director of early outreach in the Office of Admissions, said the UA has made strides in recent years to make the campus more diverse, but the budget for recruiting minority students isn’t as high as she would like.

    “”Given the resources we have, we’re doing a lot,”” Tochihara said.

    Admissions data shows an overall trend of increasing minority students during the course of the past 23 years.

    According to a report from the Office of Enrollment Management, 9.6 percent of new freshmen in 1983 were minorities. In 2006, the number reached 26.9 percent.

    Gail Burd, associate dean of the College of Science, said she hopes the UA is a welcoming place for students of different backgrounds, but there is still work to be done.

    “”We need to do more to attract students,”” Burd said.

    Arizona has a minority population of 39 percent, according to 2004 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Islas said while she felt the UA did a good job of reaching out to high-achieving minority students, it could do a better job of increasing programs for students who aren’t as academically successful.

    “”Other people should be hearing about this also,”” Islas said.

    Adam Grijalva, a senior majoring in education, said he was happy to see the UA recruiting only the best scholars, no matter what their background.

    You can’t be a white, male university and succeed in America. Diversity is an essential element of excellence.

    – Former UA President Peter Likins

    Janet Rico, assistant director of Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs and a former UA student, said she has seen a vast improvement to the overall campus atmosphere since she graduated in 2000.

    Students with different backgrounds have more support on campus now than they did when she was a student, Rico said.

    Grijalva said that although the campus is open and welcoming, it can be jarring for some students to attend classes with a white majority for the first time.

    Groups like the C/HSA and multicultural fraternities and sororities can help those students adjust and their members with resources and a social safety net in the same way as any other student organization, he said.

    “”It’s important to find a place where you belong,”” Grijalva said. “”(These groups) help make the university a smaller place.””

    This is the first year the event was named after former UA President Peter Likins and his wife, Patricia.

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