Minority number decreases from last year

Marquette enrolled a low percentage of minorities in recent years but is developing ways to educate the existing student population about minority groups and attract more minority applicants, officials say.

Last year, about 12 percent of the 11,355 Marquette graduate and undergraduate students were classified as minorities, a 1.2 percent drop from 1998 figures.

For a six-year period, over four percent of the minority students were black. Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders repeatedly constituted about four percent of the undergraduate population. American Indian or Alaskan natives made up less than one percent in both graduate and undergraduate classes over six years.

This year's official statistics will not be available until Oct. 1 because the university is using a new database, said Associate Registrar Alex Kaleta and Director of University Communication Brigid O'Brien.

The statistics may be skewed from the past few years, Kaleta said. Many students refuse to answer ethnicity questions and are consequently classified as part of the majority. Kaleta said some students fit into two or more categories but can only be officially put into one, according to government rules.

A couple factors contribute to the low minority enrollment, said Anne Deahl, associate provost for Enrollment Management. First, Marquette draws most of its students from Wisconsin, a state with a high Caucasian population. Second, the percentage of black students going to college nationwide is less than the percentage of Caucasian students, Deahl said.

Initiatives to address these issues include hiring more minority professors and establishing a position to oversee diversity on campus, Deahl said. For current students, Marquette has developed programs to inform them about other cultures.

Heritage celebrations are one aspect of a diverse campus body, according to Natalie Gross, interim assistant dean for multicultural programs at the Office of Student Development.

Gross said she works with student organizations and other university departments to develop heritage events celebrating African-American, Mexican, Arab and other cultures.

"I hope people will remember that diversity is not limited to a week or a month or a celebration," Gross said. "(Diversity) should be part of every discussion, everything we do. It's every day."

In another step to establish a more diverse student body at Marquette, the School of Dentistry offers a Health Careers Opportunity Program, which provides minority students with grants designed to help them get into and attend the school, said Denis Lynch, professor of surgical sciences and associate dean for academic affairs.

In Wisconsin, Marquette's international student population is the second largest, just under the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Susan Whipple, assistant director of Campus International Programs. International students make up five percent of the total undergraduate population.

Whipple said international students not only benefit from Marquette's academic programs and their experiences in the United States but also enhance the cultural perspective of the students here.

"Having an international classmate is the next best thing to visiting the country and living and learning there," Whipple said. "They're bringing a diversity of experience, a diversity of viewpoints."

Some international students live in the Global Village, another program that encourages diversity. Global Village is on the third floor of Campus Town West, said Area Coordinator for University Apartments Dan Bergen.

About 35 international students live there. Bergen said each international student is paired with an "ambassador," a U.S. student who helps the international student adjust to life in America.

"This is (the program's) third year," Bergen said. "It's a very cool floor. I'm very impressed."