University President Christopher Eisgruber '83 spoke about the University’s current standing of diversity at a lecture during "Coming Back," a conference hosted by the University to reconnect black alumni.
More than 900 undergraduate and graduate alumni and guests registered for the third Coming Back conference this week — a record turnout according to Eisgruber. The conference includes more than 50 events that include lectures, panel discussions and receptions.
Eisgruber began his lecture by listing various appointments to illustrate the University's leadership diversity, including Valerie Smith as the first African-American Dean of the College at Princeton, Cecilia Rouse as the first African-American Dean of the Wilson School and Keith Wailoo as the first African-Amerian Vice Dean of the Wilson School.
Eisgruber also noted the appointments of people from other cultures, such as David Lee GS '99 as Provost of the University, Sanjeev Kulkarni as Dean of the Graduate School and Ramona Romero as the general counsel to the list to showcase the diversity of Princeton’s leadership.
“I am proud that the University's leadership today is more diverse and more multicultural than ever,” he said.
Eisgruber went on to explain the steps the University has taken to increase the diversity, especially since the release of the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity's report in 2013, which issued a framework for increasing the University’s diversity in its faculty, graduate student body and senior administration.
Endorsed by the Board of Trustees, the report encourages every academic and administrative department to come forward with department-specific plans to pursue diversity-related goals.
“Implementing the report is a major priority for me and for every member of my administration,” Eisgruber said, adding that the implementation of the framework in this report would be one of his main focuses over the next few years.
Eisgruber highlighted the diversity in the undergraduate student body by pointing to the Class of 2018, which consists of 43 percent racial and ethnic minorities — the highest percentage ever, he said. While he considered this to be an achievement, he noted that a lot of work is still to be done to increase the socioeconomic diversity of the undergraduate student body.
The percentage of socioeconomic diversity of Princeton students is measured by the number of students that qualify for Pell grants, he said. While this number has grown from 6 percent in 2001 to slightly over 18 percent this year, Eisgruber said that he believes that a lot of work is yet to be done.
Referencing the recent White House Summit that he attended on Socioeconomic Diversity in Higher Education hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama ’85, Eisgruber identified three focal points to increase the representation of lesser-advantaged socioeconomic groups in the student body, including financial aid, a support environment for every student who arrives at Princeton and outreach and recruitment strategies.
He added that 60 percent of University undergraduate students are currently on financial aid and that the average scholarship granted roughly equals the price of tuition. Furthermore, 75 percent of students graduate with no student debt while the remaining 25 percent graduated with an average of $5,500 in debt.
Eisgruber said that the most work needs to be done in the outreach and recruitment section. He spoke of Princeton’s partnership with Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America to recruit promising high school seniors from lesser-advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.
He added that the University takes the highest number of students out of LEDA.
“On the one hand, I am proud of where this University has been going over the last series of decades and over the last five years since the last conference," Eisgruber said. "But I know — and I know that all of you know — that we have a lot of work left to do.”
The event, entitled "A Conversation with President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83" took place in Alexander Hall at 8:45 a.m. on Friday.