3 universities making big diversity investments

Texas A&M launches $100 million fund to help its 11 campuses better reflect the state demographics 

Universities public and private are offering substantial new scholarship programs in efforts to diversify their campuses in the wake of nationwide anti-racist protests and the financial impacts of coronavirus.

The Texas A&M University System this week announced a new $100 million scholarship fund to bring enrollment at its 11 campuses more in line with the state’s ethnic demographics.

“Historic challenges call for historic action,” Board of Regents Chairman Elaine Mendoza said in a statement. “Given the economic impact families are enduring across the state, it is imperative we act now before the fall semester begins.”

Texas A&M’s 11 campuses are close to reflecting the state’s demographic, which is 41.5% white, 39.6% Hispanic or Latino and 12.8 percent black. A few campuses, however, are skewing the numbers, the system said in a news release.

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First-generation students and those from low-income backgrounds and geographically underrepresented regions of the state will be the focus of the scholarship program, which is open to all students.

“Too often we are getting outbid for great kids by out-of-state schools that can make larger offers,” Chancellor John Sharp said in the statement. “We don’t intend to lose underrepresented students to them without a real serious fight. The goal is to make the A&M System look like Texas.”

Looking for diversity leaders

At Tulane University in New Orleans, President Michael A. Fitts is immediately committing $2.5 million to support students of color on his campus.

The amount is what would have been raised by an equity fee proposed by a black student advocacy organization on campus, but which had not yet made it through the full university approval process.

Fitts also announced on the university’s website that he and his wife will $100,000 to create a scholarship for students “who demonstrate leadership in racial equity and justice or diversity initiatives at Tulane or their high school.”

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The scholarship will become a top fundraising priority for the university, Fitts said.

In upstate New York, Clarkson University has created a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship “to invest in a new generation of young Black Americans poised and ready to lead our nation both professionally and in demanding racial justice and endeavoring to make a positive impact on the world,” the school announced on its website.

The scholarship was created in response to a challenge made by North Central University President Scott Hagan during a memorial service for Floyd hed at the school’s downtown Minneapolis campus.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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