Experiences Working With Diverse Candidates
St. Cloud State University is committed to increasing the diversity of the student body and institutional goals have been established related to recruitment and retention. Several new initiatives have been implemented over the past two years:
- Translation of publications into Hmong, Somali, and Spanish
- Translation of recruitment videos into Hmong, Somali, and Spanish
- Recruitment activities conducted at community events specific to populations of color (i.e. Cinco de Mayo)
- Transportation for low-income or underrepresented groups to visit campus
- Establishment of leadership connections in communities of color
A review of enrollment trend data at the institutional level related to the diversity of students indicates that the number and percentage of students of color have increased over the last four years. For example, in spring 2005, SCSU had 713 (4.8%) students of color; in spring 2008, 1140 (7.6%) students of color were enrolled, representing a 59.9% increase in the number of students of color during the four-year period. International experiences and the advent of international students represent another route to diversity within the university community. St. Cloud State University is the only institution within its classification that is rated in the top 20 in both (a) the proportion of students who study abroad, and (b) the proportion of international students on campus. In some regards, the St. Cloud State University campus is an oasis of diversity in what can otherwise be seen as a sea of homogeneity.
A snapshot of data illustrating the diversity of the student body at St. Cloud State University as well as the proportions of students by ethnic and racial categories within the professional education unit indicates that candidates within the unit are not as diverse as the general student body. Approximately 20 percent of students at the institutional level are from diverse backgrounds; at the unit level 13.66 percent of undergraduate and 10.23 percent of graduate candidates are from diverse backgrounds. The unit data do, however, represent an increase of candidates of color over the past five years.
Recruitment of candidates of color is a priority within the unit. The Office of Cultural Diversity within the College of Education is focused on recruitment and retention and has established several initiatives to achieve diversity goals:
- Teacher of Color Project: provides access to existing teacher education programs as well as resources when needed. Over 100 candidates of color have been supported through this project.
- Leadership Development Project: provides opportunities for junior and senior high students to visit campus, participate in leadership activities, and attend “mock” classes within the unit. Since 2000, the project has involved 46 schools and over 2300 students, of which 80 percent were students of color.
- Future Educators Clubs: work with local school districts to develop Future Educators Clubs; host statewide Future Educators Conference. In 2007, 180 future educators participated in the Future Educators of America Conference, hosted by St. Cloud State University.
Finally, candidates have numerous opportunities to interact and engage with students from diverse groups. With over 240 student organizations active on campus, candidates have opportunities to grow within the traditional classroom settings as well as beyond the classroom.
Summary: The diversity of the student body at St. Cloud State University as well as the candidates in the professional education unit has increased over the past five years. Through a variety of educational experiences and activities, candidates have the opportunity to interact and work with candidates from diverse ethnic, racial, gender, and socioeconomic groups. The commitment to candidate diversity is evident through the resources dedicated to recruitment and retention at the unit and institutional levels.