A number of recent studies have outlined the value of ethnic and racial diversity on college campuses. Until the 1960s, colleges were composed almost exclusively of white students and faculty. The breaking down of those barriers has brought significant gains to students of color, who have increasingly gained admission to what were once all-white schools. Today, more than one-fifth of any university class is likely made up of students of color.
In the early days of the movement to secure African-American, Latino, and other underrepresented students the right to higher education, most sociological studies emphasized the benefits that would accrue to these students themselves, in the form of better-paying jobs and an improved quality of life.
What these studies failed to anticipate was the value of a diverse campus to the majority population. We are now learning that diversity powers innovation in ideas and in business: Forbes magazine reports that 85 percent of corporate respondents said a diverse workforce is crucial to their success. In addition, students living in today’s multifaceted world need to learn to collaborate with people who bring varied perspectives to education and the workplace.
Mark Olson and the John Leland Center are proud that the Leland student body is so ethnically diverse that there is no majority group. African-American and Caucasian students comprise the two largest ethnic sub-groups, followed by Asian-American and Latino students.
The faculty are similarly diverse. Only one full-time member was born in the United States. The rest of the full-time faculty members were born in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.