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Provost's group to review minority grad student issues

STANFORD -- Concerned over the lagging enrollment of minority graduate students, Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice has launched a committee that will review the university's record and suggest steps for improvement.

The Provost's Committee on the Recruitment, Retention and Graduation of Targeted Minority Graduate Students will bring together 14 faculty, staff and students from a variety of schools and ethnic backgrounds, including the three targeted groups: African American, Native American and Mexican American/Puerto Rican.

The full committee will begin meeting weekly Wednesday, Dec. 8, and its report should be in the hands of the provost by mid-April 1994, according to committee chair George Dekker, associate dean of graduate policy.

"I think this committee has two functions," Dekker said. "One is simply to get people talking and working together on this more than they do at present.

"Beyond that," he said, "Stanford is not in the same position it was just a few years ago. It has a new budget and a new administration. So, to me, one of the main issues will be to make sure that we're putting our resources where they will produce the most results.

"This does not mean that we are going to spend less money on recruitment and retention," he added. "We may have to spend more money. But we want to be sure that we're proceeding in the most cost-effective way possible."

In the past decade, Stanford has had considerable success in increasing the number of minority students in its undergraduate population and professional degree programs (law and medicine, for example).

However, like most universities, it has had a tough time convincing outstanding minority graduate students to enter the academic pipeline.

In a Nov. 11 report to the Faculty Senate, Judith Goldstein, associate professor of political science, noted that Stanford has fallen far short of its 1989 goal to double the overall graduate minority student population in five years.

Rice has asked the new committee to undertake a careful review of universitywide performance over the past 10 years in recruiting, retaining and graduating targeted minority graduate students, and to identify the steps Stanford needs to take to improve that performance over the next five to 10 years.

"As you consider what steps we should take, please pay careful attention to cost/benefits trade-offs and the issue of short- vs. long-term improvements," Rice told the committee.

"More particularly, examine whether the recruiting efforts of individual schools can be usefully made more collaborative, to the mutual advantage of all. In addition, please consider whether the support system provided by faculty mentors, student affairs staff, and other students is effectively coordinated and responsive to minority graduate student needs."

Rice also asked the committee to study how similar universities are responding to the challenge and to think about what regional advantages or disadvantages Stanford might have in minority graduate student recruitment.

"Geographical issues have to be considered seriously," Dekker said. "For example, being reasonably close to home can be a factor in both recruitment and graduate school success. We should exploit any geographical advantages that we have - perhaps by intensifying recruitment efforts in the western part of the country."

Another key part of the report, Dekker said, would examine why some minority graduate students leave Stanford before earning their degrees.

"I hope we might have a chance to do follow-up research with these people," Dekker said. "Likewise, I'd like to do some follow-up with minority students who are admitted here but elect to go elsewhere. I'd like to find out why."

Dekker said he was particularly pleased with the composition of the committee, which offers not only diversity of expertise in the area of minority graduate student recruitment and retention but also "a good mix in terms of age and gender."

Other members of the committee include Clayton Bates, professor of materials science engineering; Sally Dickson, associate dean of student affairs at the Law School; Elizabeth Fitting, student services officer at the Graduate School of Business; Ronald Garcia, senior lecturer at the Medical School; Colleen Larimore, assistant dean of graduate studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences; and Geneva Lopez, assistant registrar for graduate services.

Also: Noe Lozano, associate dean of student affairs in the School of Engineering; Richard Navarro, fellow with the American Council of Education; Jacqueline Olvera, graduate student in sociology; Rebecca Reynolds, graduate student in the School of Medicine; Carol Vonder Linden, assistant dean of research with longtime experience in the School of Earth Sciences; Robert Warrior, assistant professor of English; and Lori White, graduate student in the School of Education.



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