Fairfield made The Princeton Review’s 2007 top ten list for schools with the most homogeneous student population.

But times are changing as the University has doubled its percentage of minorities.

The class of 2010 includes 169 AHANA (African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American) students compared to the class of 2009, which includes a mere 82.

The percentage of minorities for the entire student body, therefore, jumped from nine percent to 18 percent, according to Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity William Johnson.

The jump is exemplified in the number of enrolled students from Puerto Rico.

For the 2005 academic year only one student enrolled from Puerto Rico compared to nine students who enrolled this year.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Karen Pellegrino attributed the rise to several reasons.

“I believe there are many factors, but clearly one of the most important is the commitment of the entire university community, beginning with Father von Arx, to enhance the diversity on our campus in all ways,” said Pellegrino.

Visiting more high schools with high populations of AHANA students for college fairs was another technique implemented, said Pellegrino.

Horizons weekend, an event sponsored by the office of undergraduate admission, is an opportunity for accepted AHANA students to visit Fairfield and get a better feel for the campus, Pellegrino said. The program was expanded this year to include class visits and meetings during a regular academic day.

Horizons weekend saw a slight increase from the previous year from 30 to 48 students.

Project Excel and the Academic Advantage Program are other programs used to acquaint AHANA students with Fairfield.

Academic Vice President Orin Grossman formed a diversity committee two years ago to “examine issues of diversity around the campus,” said Pellegrino.

“As an outgrowth of that, we now have a standing Diversity Council.”

Johnson, who began his position on the Diversity Council in September 2005, said, “I want people to see students from different backgrounds interacting with each other.”

Johnson reacted to Fairfield’s listing as one of the most homogeneous schools in the country by saying, “I believe that students who are going to college today are looking for environments which reflect our society today.”

Pellegrino agreed that students desire a campus that exhibits the cultural variety of America.

“I think the rise in ethnic diversity is a very tangible indication of our efforts to enhance diversity of all kinds on our campus,” said Pellegrino. “I also think it is important to create a campus community that reflects the diversity of our country in general.”

Ashley Calame ’09 was pleased to hear about the rise in diversity.

“It’s refreshing to see so many different faces on campus instead of the cookie cutter population we usually have,” said Calame.

Other students agree that the change is beneficial for Fairfield.

“I think it’ll be more like the real world and less like a white middle class safe haven,” Pat Kelly ’09 said.

“It’s always seen as a good thing here for more diversity, and it’s a good opportunity for students to get more culture,” said Amenda Legros ’08.

In the future, Fairfield hopes to work closely with community-based organizations in urban centers, said Johnson. Plans include “enhancing what we have been doing and bringing more students into the funnel.”

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