*Editorial Note: After the publication of this article, Georgetown contacted Poets&Quants to inform us they mistakenly reported their original rate of 40% U.S. minorities to enroll last fall. The actual number is 14%. We have updated the article below to reflect that correction.
The United States is a big, diverse country, and its diversity is only increasing. According to Pew Research Center data, by 2050 there will be no single dominant race in the U.S.; what’s more, “minority” births already outnumber white, non-Hispanic births in the U.S. — a trend reflected in Census Bureau data as well.
On an educational level, it’s no secret university administrations value diversity. Looking beyond ongoing legal battles over whether race should be considered in college admissions, universities don’t hide their pride in enrolling diverse classes, with admissions offices within business schools often touting the number of under-represented minorities, women, and international students they enroll each year.
Last year, when Poets&Quants set out to rank undergraduate business school programs, we also asked for a huge amount of data. Among the trove of information we received was the percentage of under-represented minorities enrolling last fall. Of the 50 schools ranked, 42 were able to report enrollment data on minorities, which we defined as “Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders” — and no other school enrolled a higher percentage this fall than Cornell’s Dyson School at an amazing 33%.
To get a sense of what that number really means, consider that only one other schools enrolled percentages higher than 30%. Cornell’s Dyson School enrolled one-third, exactly 33%, and the University of Georgia’s Terry School enrolled 31.6% U.S.-born minorities — the highest among public schools. Just seven other schools enrolled even 20% minorities, meaning of the 42 schools with available data, less than a quarter had at least 20%. Rounding out the top five were Babson College and the University of Pittsburgh, both of which enrolled 28% this fall.
GEORGETOWN McDONOUGH’S FULL-SERVICE APPROACH
According to Patricia Grant, the interim senior associate dean at Georgetown McDonough, which had a minority rate of 14%, the school’s commitment to enrolling diverse classes is rooted in its Jesuit foundation, which means “diversity and respect for all backgrounds, cultures, and identities is paramount,” Grant says. Once students enroll, McDonough provides a thorough support system through graduation and beyond, she says: “When we admit students to the McDonough School of Business, we are looking to shepherd them from when they enter the school to when they graduate and beyond that.”
For Michael Saxon, the Business Undergraduates Invested in Leadership Program (BUILD), a pre-orientation leadership development program for incoming McDonough freshmen, served as an early support system. Through BUILD, incoming students spend a week getting a curriculum preview in core subject areas and tour around Washington D.C.’s many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies to get a head start on career pathways. “As soon as I set foot on campus through the BUILD program, I felt at home because I was around students who looked like me and thought like me, but I was also challenged as well,” says Saxon, a junior focusing on marketing and finance.
After all, it is one thing to get a diverse student body on campus; it’s another to provide an inclusive environment for those populations to thrive. Grant says about 10% of incoming freshmen typically participate in BUILD, which gives them a “really nice and diverse network that serves as a real microcosm for the entire community.”
WOMEN FACULTY UP 60% AND MINORITY FACULTY UP 13% FROM 2011 TO 2016
Increasing minority representation in faculty and administration was at the top of the to-do list for former McDonough Dean David Thomas. During his tenure from 2011 to 2016, the school increased its women faculty by 60% and minority faculty by 13%.
Meanwhile, McDonough’s efforts to diversify its student population are highlighted by the SMART Start program, which places 25 first- and second-year McDonough students from under-represented backgrounds with mentors at PwC, the consulting and tax services giant. Launched in 2013, the program essentially serves as a pipeline from McDonough to PwC, with participants getting valuable interview, resume, and cover letter tips through workshops. For Michael Saxon, the program also led to an internship at PwC last summer.
Another factor in Saxon’s ultimate decision to attend McDonough was an early connection with its diverse leadership. “Connecting with mentors in the dean’s office who looked like me was a big part of my decision to come here,” he says. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Saxon recently took on the role of vice president for the Georgetown Aspiring Minority Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs (GAMBLE) program. Defining the program, he says, is a goal to “foster the conversation on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”
BABSON COLLEGE’S ONGOING EFFORT ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
At Babson College, freshly minted undergraduate Dean Ian Lapp says the schools has made a renewed commitment to diversity. “A little less than a year ago, I felt strongly that we should further strengthen our commitment to being a domestically diverse and globally engaged student body at the undergraduate level,” says Lapp, who started his deanship in January of 2016.
Babson has long cared about diversity, Lapp says, but with a stronger focus on international students. He wants to make sure the Babson population reflects the entire U.S. population moving forward, saying increased diversity and inclusivity on the Babson campus is an “ongoing effort.”
“There are very few places among the private colleges that are as global and diverse as Babson,” Lapp says.
Being a school rooted and focused in entrepreneurship, Babson’s diversity is “central” to the experiential and entrepreneurial learning process, Lapp says. The educational experience at Babson relies heavily on collaboration and teamwork, he adds, and that “fits very naturally” with the school’s “commitments to inclusion.”
“We know all too well at Babson that innovation and entrepreneurship — which is central to our campus and what our graduates have to do — at its core is about diversity of ideas and bringing different perspectives that create the synergies to create the idea or the product,” Lapp maintains, noting now in first-year seminars every student is “exposed to four or five class sessions on issues of diversity and inclusion and power and privilege.”
A DIVERSE CLASSROOM IS AN INNOVATIVE CLASSROOM
Grant at Georgetown agrees the more diverse a college class is — on any number of characteristics or identities — the more innovative the ideas and discussions are, especially in group work settings. “What results is a more enriching and innovative presentation or pitch they are working on rather than what it would be with students with similar sets of outlooks, backgrounds, and even activities on campus,” she says. And while the school doesn’t specifically seek out certain demographics in the admissions process, she says it’s something they “keep in mind.”
“It’s not an accident,” she says of the 40% rate of incoming freshmen this past fall.
At Babson, Lapp sees the potential of bringing different groups of people together and putting them in dorm rooms, residential halls, and classrooms is “one of the great experiments” in society. “I see Babson College — and some of the other places that have a strong commitment to diversity — as one of the great experiments in this country and around the world,” he says.
MANY SCHOOLS WOULD LIKELY NOT REFLECT ACTUAL U.S. POPULATION
Of course, not all schools boasted such diversity. And there is a geographical trend to the schools at the bottom of the list. Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota — all publics — all have the lowest percentages at 5.4%, 5.5%, and 6%, respectively. Outside of the three upper Midwest schools, Northeastern University in Boston and Rutgers Business School-New Brunswick reported 6% minorities in this year’s incoming class. More than half of the schools (24), reported minority rates at 15% or lower. Of those 24, 12 schools reported less than 10%.
In 2015, Census Bureau data revealed 44.9% of U.S.-born 18- to 24-year-olds were considered a minority. For 14- to 17-year-olds, the number inched to 45.5%. Even though census data includes Asian Americans (who weren’t included in this reported data set), many B-schools still lag. While it’s unclear what these percentages would jump to if Asian Americans were included in school-reported data, it’s safe to assume many schools still would not reach the 45% that reflects the U.S. population. On the other hand, the census data does not reflect rates at which those populations attend four-year universities.
Interestingly, there was no correlation between minorities enrolled and ranking placement. For example, B-schools in the top 10 for minority percentages included both top-ranked Washington University in St. Louis and 50th-placed University of Arizona. Similarly, the bottom 10 schools for minority percentages had the University of Michigan, which placed 10th in the rankings, and Michigan State, which placed 38th.
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