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Investing in People: Developing All of America's Talent on Campus
and in the Workplace
This report is the result of an initiative launched by the
Business-Higher Education Forum to discuss the importance of racial and
ethnic diversity as factors that continue to shape America's civic, social,
and economic life. Members of the forum believe there exists a strong
linkage between the benefits and rewards of diversity in higher education
and in the workforce. The report was issued with three key purposes: to
review research that supports the value of racial, ethnic, and cultural
diversity in business and higher education, to call attention to programs
and strategies that foster diversity, and to offer recommendations that
business and academe can implement, separately or jointly.
KEY POINTS FROM THE REPORT
- Increasing proportions of Americans from diverse backgrounds (data
from the 2000 census), coupled with increasing technological advances and
changing economic trends suggest the importance of the ability to engage in
- The minority population has increased by 35% in the last
ten years (1990 to 2000) compared with 3.4% of the white population.
(Specifically, Hispanics by 58%, Asian Americans by 50%, and African
Americans by 16%.)
- Changes in student diversity show 28% of whites complete a bachelor
degree, while less than 17% of African Americans and 11% of Hispanics
complete their bachelor degrees.
- Between 2000 and 2015, experts predict that the age of students
attending college will increase by 16% and that 80% of this new prospective
student population will be non-white, and of this 80% close to half will be
- African American and Hispanic students will attend college in
disproportionate numbers to their percentage of the college age population,
as stated by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Further, only the Asian
American student will attend college in true proportions to their percentage
of the college age population.
- A changing and more complex workforce necessitates the need for skills
and knowledge beyond high school. It is predicted that by 2028 there will
be 19 million more jobs than individuals who are adequately prepared to fill
Why Diversity Matters
- Evidence shows that encountering a range of racial, ethnic, and
cultural perspectives on campus enhances students' preparation for full
participation in a diverse democratic society.
- Evidence shows that students who are exposed to people with a range of
backgrounds and ideas are better critical thinkers, and also show greater
social and interpersonal development than students with less exposure to
- The benefits for college students who are exposed to racial and ethnic
diversity carry over into the workforce in a number of skills; specifically,
enhanced creativity, tolerance, innovation, problem-solving skills, the
ability to think critically, and understand multiple points of
Responding to the Current Challenges of Diversity
- In order to successfully prepare students for a future, the nation
must change the inequities that exist in the availability of educational
resources particularly for inner-city and rural schools. Further, the
nation must increase the availability of financial aid for students who need
it, develop programs that increase the awareness of first generation college
students and their families about preparing for, applying to, and attending
college, promote and develop campus environments that value diversity, and
increase enrollment of minority populations in higher education.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
The members of the Forum make the following recommendations both in
business and academe.
- Support and strengthen existing outreach programs that focus on the
value of attending college, ways to prepare students and assist them in
applying for and attending college, and the importance of lifelong
- Provide the resources to ensure that teachers are prepared to work
effectively with racially and ethnically diverse students.
- Review current strategies and policies designed to foster diversity and
ensure that they are meeting their goals, and publicize the results of these
reviews in the higher education and business communities.
- Advocate that colleges and universities take the whole person into
account when making decisions; that is, consider all relevant qualities not
just grades and test scores in assessing each applicant.
- Encourage corporate foundations to provide support for diversity
initiatives, and to share the programs and their results with professional
- As part of the business employee recruitment process, emphasize to
campuses the importance of being able to recruit personnel from a diverse
- Urge national policy makers to increase the amount of the Pell Grant to
its congressionally authorized annual maximum of $5,800 per student.
- Strengthen learning outcomes, through continuous assessment and
application of promising practices, in the nation's elementary and secondary
- Encourage university governing boards and state policy makers to give
priority to increasing the amount of need-based aid, even in the face of
competing legislative agendas and state university budget cuts.
- Create state and/or local coalitions between education and business
leaders to promote discussion and joint action to achieve diversity and
tolerance on campus and in business.
- Provide awareness, in all appropriate forums, of the broad range of
successful practices that open opportunity to, and strengthen the quality
American Council on Education. (2002). Investing in people: Developing
all of America's talent on campus and in the workplace. Washington, DC:
Submitted by R.M. Johnson, March 2004. This is a report summary and
excerpts are quoted directly from the text.
Iowa State was the first chartered land-grant institution.