Provost Sullivan on access at the University

Tom Sullivan

The Minnesota Daily has run a number of pieces recently about diversity and access (for example, “Priorities for a new admin,” “Should Kaler prioritize diversity?” both in the July 6 Daily). I agree that the University of Minnesota needs to insure access for a diverse student body. It is helpful to consider the facts.

The percentage of students of color among Twin Cities undergraduates has increased from 16.4 percent in 2004 to 18.4 percent in 2010. Furthermore, the percentage of international students has increased over that same period from 1.8 percent to 6.1 percent. These two trends give the University a greater diversity of cultural backgrounds, both from ethnicity and national origin. Giving access to a higher education to a diverse group of students allows them to share their different backgrounds and experiences with each other, enriching each individual and the University as a whole.

Providing access for students who come from a variety of financial circumstances enriches the University community as well. The number of students eligible for the federal Pell Grant has increased from 6,009 in 2004 to 7,439 in 2010, which represents an increase from 21 percent of undergraduates on the Twin Cities campus to 24 percent. And, importantly, financial aid provided by the University âÄî even excluding loans and work study âÄî has increased from $81 million in 2004 to $152 million in 2010.

Clearly, diversity is an important goal for the University. And as these data all establish, the University has been working hard to enroll a diverse student body and provide financial access to those in need.

We will continue to work on access for diverse students through the admission process and on access to success for students toward a timely graduation.