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Focus on Diversity Issues Continues

By many measures, Smith College is a diverse community. Recently named one of the nation’s top colleges for African American students, Smith already has a widely recognized commitment to providing access to underrepresented groups, including first-generation college students and nontraditional-aged students.

However, as Director of Institutional Diversity Naomi J. Miller points out, achieving and promoting diversity is never “finished.” At the direction of Smith President Carol T. Christ, Miller and a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumnae led a two-year comprehensive assessment of Smith community members’ perceptions of diversity on campus.

Results are in from the two-year effort, titled “Common Ground: Community in Diversity at Smith College,” that asked faculty, staff, students and alumnae to reflect on a number of diversity measures at the college, including race and ethnicity, sexual and political orientations, socioeconomic status, disability and religion. More than 340 participated.

Chief among the report’s recommendations is one of increasing diversity among faculty and staff. Regarding race and ethnicity, for example, while 32 percent of the student body declares itself to represent a minority group, only about 16 percent of the faculty and 10 percent of the staff currently do so. President Christ described the Common Ground study as an ambitious, timely and important project and commended those who informed it. A summary and recommendations of the Common Ground report are available at www.smith.edu/oid/commonground.

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