“Regardless of our students’ ethnic background or income level, they graduate at the same rates as our overall student population,” Chancellor Kim Wilcox said in a press release before the event. “Few other universities in the country can stake this claim…” Both Chancellor Wilcox and Dr. Yolanda Moses, Assistant Vice-Chancellor Diversity, Excellence and Equity, remarked at the hearing that for over two decades UCR has intentionally focused on diversity with an attempt to better reflect the diverse population of California. The research and practices that have allowed UCR to begin to close the achievement gap were presented by other UCR faculty, researchers, and administrators.
The final segment of the hearing focused on undergraduate funding and equity across the entire UC system. Another participant at the meeting was Assembly member Mike Gipson, chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, who recently called for an audit to examine how the growth of nonresident enrollment throughout the UC system has affected enrollment for residents. The audit, scheduled to begin next month, will also review the progress of UC’s Rebenching Initiative implemented after a 2011 audit that uncovered significant inequities in per-student funding among UC campuses. Campuses like UCR, whose student enrollment is made-up of students of color and first generation college students, received up to $2,100 less per student than the older more established campuses, mainly UCLA and Berkeley.
For two consecutive years UCR has ranked 2nd on Washington Monthly’s list of universities when considering civic engagement, social mobility, and research. Last year Time Magazine ranked UCR the best college value based on the White House formula of graduation rates, affordability, and access to financial aid. These rankings make me wonder, if UCR can achieve comparable graduation rates across various ethnicities – 73% Asian Americans, 66% Latinos, 72% African Americans, 68% Whites – while receiving inequitable funding from the University of California, then what can be accomplished when the campus receives equal pay for every student? And what will that teach us about the tremendous role diversity plays in academic excellence, or general excellence for that matter?