Promoting Diversity

Promoting diversity on campus is a critical priority for Union and for President Ainlay, one that is integral to our mission of preparing students for a globally interconnected world. Our goal is not only to increase diversity, but to support a diverse environment in which people from varied backgrounds can succeed and thrive.

At the time of its founding in 1795, Union distinguished itself by being among the nation's first non-sectarian colleges. While most of its contemporaries were founded by a single religious denomination, Union was founded by three different groups. They believed that, despite religious differences, they could be united in a common educational purpose. Over the past two centuries, Union has built upon this commitment and expanded its notion of what it means to be diverse. Union enthusiastically extends an invitation to people from varied faith traditions and varied ethnic, racial, economic, and regional backgrounds, and to those of all sexual identities, to join our community.

The College has taken a number of important steps to build and support a diverse community of students, faculty, staff and administrators, and President Ainlay received the President’s Award from the Leadership Council on Inclusion in fall 2010 for his leadership and commitment to increasing diversity on campus. For instance, international students as a percent of the incoming class increased from 2 percent in 2005 to 5 percent in 2011, while students from diverse backgrounds increased from 12 percent to 19 percent in that same timeframe.  In addition, an annual survey of seniors asking them to rate their satisfaction with the sense of community on campus showed an increase from 2.2 (on a 4-point scale) in 2001 to 3.1 in 2010.

Other important accomplishments in recent years include:

  • The appointment by President Ainlay of the Senior Director of Campus Diversity and Affirmative Action, who serves as a member of the President's Senior Staff
  • The creation of a new Office of Multicultural Affairs and a Director of Multicultural Affairs position
  • The establishment of a Presidential Forum on Diversity, an ongoing lecture series which has brought to campus such notable speakers as Soledad O'Brien and Maya Angelou to address diversity-related topics
  • Participation in the Posse Scholars Program, which brings proven student leaders from diverse backgrounds to Union
  • Participation in the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars program, which brings students from 118 countries throughout the world to study at colleges and universities in the United States
  • The introduction of a new Religious Studies academic program at Union
  • The creation of a Prayer and Meditation Room on campus-- a student-led effort to provide a place for individuals of all faiths and beliefs to engage in worship and quiet contemplation

In addition, there are a number of student-governed theme houses on campus which support diversity and bring together students with common interests.

Going forward, Union will continue to cultivate and celebrate diversity in its many forms, creating a learning environment that mirrors the interconnected world in which we live.