My wife Kathy and I attended an event called Expect the Great College & Career Readiness Fair, held last Saturday at the University of Utah. The Fair was conceived by Regent France Davis and has turned into a very successful event designed for the African and African American communities interested in college education. Rosie Connor, Snow College’s advancement director, took a group of our students up to the fair. They had a great time. At the end of the day the students wanted a picture of everyone—hence this blurry shot taken with my iPhone.
Friday, the day prior to the fair, I gave a presentation to the Board of Regents regarding diversity at Snow College. We have made considerable progress in attracting a more diverse population of students to Snow College and in helping them succeed. The numbers are relatively small but the direction is significant!
When I arrived at Snow College in 2007 we had no program targeted specifically to recruit or support minority students. That year, we had a total of 296 minority students, which constituted 9% of our student body. Among the minority groups we had 116 Hispanic, 69 Pacific Islander, 65 American Indian, 24 African American and 22 Asian students. (These numbers do not include international students.) We opened the first multicultural center that first year and hired a director, Fernando Montano. With a little work we have steadily increased the number of minority student to 519 or 13% of the total student body. While the College has grown considerably since 2007, the minority student population has grown at a more rapid rate.
Fall third-week enrollment numbers this year, 2013, show that our Hispanic students have increased by 60%, Pacific Islander students by 53%, Asian students by 45%, and our African American students have more than doubled, with an increase of 167%. American Indian students have exhibited modest growth, with in increase of 11%.
More exciting—our minority students are more successful today than they were in 2007. For example, 66% of minority students who took a developmental English class in 2007 received a passing grade. The success rate has increased to 83% in 2013. Graduation rates have also increased measurably. The four-year graduation rate has increased from 28% to 45%.
This success has only been possible because of the great work of Fernando Montano in the Multicultural Center, our advisors in the Student Success Center and Student Support Services, as well as financial aid advisors, club advisors and many other staff members across both campuses. And of course, I cannot fail to mention our faculty members who regularly help all students in need of a little extra time now and again.
Oh, and one more thing. Snow College's main campus is located in Sanpete County. The total minority population in Sanpete County is 15%. Our second campus is in Sevier County. The minority population there is 13%. With a college student minority population equal to Sevier and within 2 points of Sanpete we are fairly reflective of our communities as a whole.