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Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Affirming Educational Diversity
(< Continued from the first Student Experience page)

In a 2007 essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Why Diversity Matters,” President Bollinger made the case that it’s vital for colleges and universities to maintain affirmative action programs because student diversity helps train future leaders of a pluralistic society, fosters a greater spirit of community on campuses, and best prepares students for work and further education—both of which will require them to understand and collaborate with a diverse and fluid set of colleagues, partners, and customers.

“The experience of arriving on a campus to live and study with classmates from a diverse range of backgrounds is essential to students’ training for this new world, nurturing in them an instinct to reach out instead of clinging to the comforts of what seems natural or familiar,” Bollinger wrote. “We know that connecting with people very—or even slightly—different from ourselves stimulates the imagination; and when we learn to see the world through a multiplicity of eyes, we only make ourselves more nimble in mastering—and integrating—the diverse fields of knowledge awaiting us.”

In fulfilling the commitment to diversity among faculty and staff as well as students, the University created a new Office of Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives, with a mandate to develop, recruit, and retain an expanding, diverse pool of well-qualified candidates. The office has helped launch a range of programs that not only identify new potential hires, but also create a workplace supportive of diversity. This includes efforts that account for dual-career academic couples and provide for an improved work–life balance for those caring for children or other family members. Perhaps most importantly for the future, the vice provost also seeks to expand the pipeline of future scholars, identifying and encouraging more undergraduates in underrepresented groups to consider an academic career.

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Facts about Student Diversity
Socioeconomic diversity: Columbia has the highest proportion of undergraduates receiving federal Pell Grants in the Ivy League, one measure of its commitment to socioeconomic diversity.

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International students: With international students from 127 countries making up a record 18.6% of total University enrollment in 2006, Columbia has more international students than any university in the United States, aside from the University of Southern California. And the number is growing: The fall 2006 enrollment of more than 4,600 international students was a 6.6% increase over the previous year.

Ethnic diversity: Between 2002 and 2006, the percentage of students of minority race/ethnicity increased from 33.5% to 36% for the University as a whole, and from 34.2% to 41% for Columbia College.

Office of Multicultural Affairs: In summer 2004, Columbia created the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the undergraduate student population, with a mission of advocating for students on multicultural issues; organizing and supporting intercultural and community programs; providing diversity education and training; advising undergraduate cultural organizations; promoting social justice and equity; supporting culture-based mentoring programs; and promoting critical intellectual inquiry on issues of diversity. OMA also oversees the Intercultural Resource Center.

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