The Academic Affairs Subcommittee was charged with reviewing, assessing, and proposing recommendations that would measure and improve how effectively the University’s course offerings and academic programs address matters of race, culture, and faith.
The subcommittee met numerous times over the course of the 2020–21 academic year. Through individual conversations with all of the students and young alumni on the Sister Thea Bowman Committee, members of the subcommittee sought to inform themselves about the experience of Black students on campus. The group and/or chairman interviewed five student/young alumni members and the subcommittee reviewed online posts from Black alumni about their experiences. The chair also met with two Black alumni who graduated in the mid-1970s, one of whom went on to a storied career as a head coach at the University.
Members also reviewed graduate and undergraduate enrollment data by race. They found that white students are more likely to enroll in the University than students of other races/ethnicities. As of 2019, white students comprise roughly 65 percent of undergraduates who are not attending the University on a student visa; another 14 percent of undergraduates are Hispanic/ Latino; 4.4 percent are Black; and seven percent either did not identify their race or ethnicity or selected “multi/other” to characterize themselves.
At the graduate level, 50 percent of the students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are white and just under 12 percent, Black. Just under seven percent are Hispanic/Latino, and less than six percent marked themselves down as “multi/other.” Almost eight percent of graduate students did not provide a race/ ethnicity.
In spring 2021, the Academic Affairs Subcommittee members met with a committee from the School of Arts and Sciences that had been asked by that School’s dean to explore the possibility of launching one or more courses that might lead eventually to an Africana Studies Program.
Develop a panel presentation for faculty, involving Black undergraduate students, who will share what, in their experience, works well in the classroom. The presentation would be organized by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Center for Cultural Engagement.
Develop faculty workshops involving groups of faculty facilitators and a compilation of resources for faculty interested in integrating topics pertaining to race into their courses, both to be coordinated by the Center for Teaching Excellence.
Review existing course offerings pertinent to the academic study of race.
Explore the possibility of an Africana Studies Program (or an African American Studies Program) befitting the distinctive academic mission of the University.
Host a series of faculty panels focused on race-related topics. These panels would primarily be targeted for students but could be open to the general public. Their goal would be to contribute to a deeper understanding of the moral, social, and political challenges pertaining to race in light of Christian faith.
Provide funding to support faculty research and teaching on topics pertinent to the work of the Sister Thea Bowman Committee.
Foster volunteer mentoring between Black students and Black junior faculty and alumni.
Compile and study data on minority student recruitment and retention.