Tippie College looking to increase diversity

By KayLynn Harris

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The College of Business has high hopes for a diverse student body.

The University of Iowa made history this year having the most diverse freshmen class in its history. Recently, the individual colleges within the UI have been taking their own steps to gain a more diverse student body — including the Tippie College of Business.

The college is hiring diversity mentors and tutors as well as staging diversity discussion series and lunches — including one just last Friday.

Melissa Baker, associate director of Tippie Experience, said the events are important to Tippie’s future.

“We as administrators wanted to make more of an effort at embracing diversity,” she said.

“By having these lunches and other events, we are allowing a comfortable place for underrepresented students to get to know their professors,” she said. “We want to expand on what we are doing in order to connect more with students because having that connection is essential for their success.”

Associate Dean Kenneth Brown said the College’s efforts would boost student experience.

“Diversity enriches the education process. If you want to be successful in business you have to be able to interact with a large variety of people,” he said. “We want that interaction to start in the classroom. As the world gets more diverse you have to be able to navigate differences and this is a skill.”

Brown also said such programs benefit administrators as well.

“Many professors come from not very diverse backgrounds, and there is often a disconnect when teaching,” he said. “By holding these events we are giving professors the opportunity to establish a relationship with these students, understand where they come from and improve the ways in which they teach.”

The colleges with graduate students have a combined student body of 5,804 out of UI’s total student population, which is over 30,000. Out of those roughly 5,800, only 677 students are minorities.

Brown said Tippie is trailing the UI in diversity among student body and numbers are improving yearly. However, he stressed that there is still a long way to go.

Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz, president of the Multicultural Business Student Association, sees a bright future for diversity at Tippie.

“I truly believe that nearly everyone at Tippie is trying to make the College a more inviting place especially for those from different backgrounds and cultures,” he said.

Being a minority student herself Ortiz is aware that lack of representation is a problem. However, she and others within the college are taking steps to address the issue.

Last month, the school held a diversity summit to talk about the issues and methods of improvements.

“One of the most important things that we have done this semester is simply talking about the issues,” Ortiz said. “In the future we hope to use what we have learned to create programming that will help unite Tippie even more.”

Tippie officials hope to partner with the Center for Diversity and Enrichment in order to connect with more underrepresented students. Brown said mentoring programs for diversity students along with tutoring are being established next semester.

Other efforts like the student and faculty lunches and diversity summits will continue. 

“I think we can make this institution stronger by expanding its diversity and I am excited for the future,” Brown said.

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