Regents Tackle Diversity

Last year, 10 years after the passage of Proposition 209, the UC Regents launched an initiative to study the state of diversity within the University of California. The study was proposed after a public outcry over the composition of UC Los Angeles’ and UC San Diego’s 2006 entering freshmen classes, which were composed of less than 3 percent and 1 percent African-American students, respectively.
The Regental Study Group on University Diversity was comprised of a broad range of UC and non-UC community members, including UC Regents, Office of the President administrative leadership, chancellors, vice chancellors, faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate student representatives. Under the leadership of co-Chairs Regent Gerald Parsky and Provost Rory Hume and Vice Chair Regent Joanne Kozberg, the group undertook its charge to study the long-term impact of Proposition 209 on the university’s ability to serve California’s diverse communities. The final report has been a long time in the making and represents a tremendous work effort.
As we prepare to hear the Study Group deliver its findings and recommendations to the UC Regents this week, we would like to take this opportunity to applaud and thank them for endorsing and supporting the Study Group’s work. However, we would also like to remind the Board and the Office of the President, as well as all of our campuses, that the work of addressing diversity does not and cannot end with the presentation of the Study Group’s report. In fact, it will be just beginning.
An institutional commitment to diversity cannot be separated from our mission as a public institution, and diversity at all levels is vital to the quality of the University of California. The university must monitor diversity efforts, and it must assume a leadership role in collaborating with key stakeholders to advance opportunities for qualified Californian students from all backgrounds. If we work in partnership with children in all grade levels, the California State Universities, California’s community colleges, private colleges/universities, community leaders, religious organizations and the governor and legislators, we will be better able to meet the future needs of the state and its diverse population.
The work of addressing diversity is multi-faceted, and it is not limited to analyzing undergraduate admissions. There are also layers of legal considerations; while the university is bound by Proposition 209, it is also bound by federal regulations that guard against ‘disparate impact.
Addressing diversity in a forthright, proactive and transparent fashion will not only serve to make us a stronger, more respected university, it is also key in helping us serve our state and communities.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped the University of California wrestle with both understanding the state of diversity within the university and ensuring that the University of California can create a supportive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds. We would also like to acknowledge the commitment and effort of all of the study group members, as well as to recognize the work of countless others across the system who contributed to this project.
The University of California is a precious public resource, and its future success depends on its ability to respond to California’s changing demographics. We hope that the UC diversity report will assist the university in this task, helping California to grow and prosper in a bright, multi-cultural future.
Maria Ledesma was the 2006-07 UC Student Regent, Ben Allen is the current 2007-08 UC Student Regent and D’Artagnan Scorza is the upcoming 2008-09 UC Student Regent.