Dear Campus Community,
I am pleased to provide an update on the important work of our Undergraduate Student Diversity Project. Launched in December 2018, the project is focused on expanding undergraduate diversity on our campus and creating more support and a stronger sense of belonging for each member of the Berkeley community.
The project’s three working groups – tasked with considering how we advance diversity through changes to our Outreach, Recruiting, Marketing, and Yield activities, our Admissions Policy and Process, and the Campus Experience for those historically underrepresented within higher education – published their final recommendations in September. If you would like to provide input on any of the working groups’ recommendations, we invite you to submit your feedback via the strategic plan web site.
The campus is already moving forward with the implementation of many of the working groups’ recommendations. For example:
Consistent with the recommendations of the Outreach, Recruiting, Marketing, and Yield Working Group, our messaging to prospective students has been updated to be more welcoming and inclusive of those from a wider range of communities.
Consistent with the recommendations of the Admissions Policy and Process Working Group, our application reading process has been restructured to provide more contextual information about our applicants’ circumstances, to offer additional contextual information about applicants’ high schools, and to expand the role of our most experienced and highly trained readers. These changes are designed to help ensure that our evaluations of applicants’ achievements and potential contributions fully recognize the challenges they—especially those who are from low-income families or who are first-generation college students—may have had to overcome.
Consistent with the recommendations of the Campus Experience Working Group, the campus has launched its Building Naming Review Committee and is moving ahead with one name review, with a second expected soon. In addition, we have committed to identifying community space for affinity-based groups, and the Undergraduate Experience Executive Steering and Coordinating Committees are actively at work on incorporating recommendations regarding inclusivity in the classroom and other academic activities.
I believe our success in sustaining momentum for this work will depend on focused and committed leadership for the many different implementation efforts underway. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that Associate Director of Financial Aid Silvia Marquez has agreed to expand her work on this project to lead and coordinate its implementation.
Silvia brings to this project both a passionate commitment to diversity and inclusion in higher education and a breadth of experience advocating for the needs of low-income and underrepresented students. Silvia served as Interim Director of Undergraduate Admissions in 2018 and is also a member of the UC Systemwide Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Advisory Committee, the African American Initiative Steering Committee, and the campus HSI Taskforce. In addition to her many years in our Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, her career includes work in the Upward Bound program at Holy Names College, as Director of Financial Aid for the California College of the Arts, and with the College Board. A first-generation college student herself, Silvia graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Social Welfare and completed a masters’ degree in Public Administration at CSU East Bay. I am thrilled to have her leading this important work.
In closing, I hope you will join me in thanking the co-chairs and members of our three working groups and Student Advisory Committee for their contributions to this project over many months. The studies they have undertaken and recommendations they have produced will be an excellent guiding framework as we pursue our undergraduate diversity goals.
Finally, in addition to undergraduate diversity, we continue to make progress on our graduate diversity, staff diversity, and faculty diversity efforts, and will provide updates about these areas in due course.
Carol T. Christ