Grant to fund 5-college consortium on campus diversity

February 10, 2009

With funding from a $300,000 Teagle Foundation grant, McDaniel and four other liberal arts colleges will form a consortium to explore diversity issues and develop programs that enrich multicultural perspectives on campuses across the country.

While multicultural understanding is certainly not a new issue for colleges, the Teagle-funded consortium will focus on diversity efforts in a more purposeful and holistic way, according McDaniel team chair Gretchen McKay.

The five colleges – Goucher, McDaniel, Ursinus, Washington, and Washington & Jefferson – will each receive about $60,000. Together they will concentrate on four areas critical to multicultural education:

  • Access and equity
  • Formal and informal curriculum
  • Campus climate
  • Student learning and development

In today’s global society, an understanding of other cultures is key to student post-graduation success. The first step is to assess how well students learn about other cultures inside and outside the classroom, McKay said.

“We’ll also look at the diversity climate on our campuses, not just for minority students but for minority faculty and staff as well,” said McKay, an associate Art History professor and assistant to the president for special projects, explaining that the colleges will learn from each other and look forward to sharing with colleagues what works and what doesn’t.

The consortium will form committees, on campus and among campuses, this spring – and launch the three-year project in the summer. The colleges will pool data and identify critical elements, or turning points, in diversity awareness and education during a student’s college years.

Research suggests that liberal arts colleges perform distinctly better on diversity measures than other types of colleges and universities, and all five colleges in the consortium already have a deep well of information on diversity that will help fuel the collective effort.