In my last Town Hall meeting, someone asked a question about diversity at Cedarville. My mind went immediately to new students rather than overall enrollment, and I didn’t answer the question very well. Fortunately, we live in community together so I have more than one opportunity to address the issue. In this edition of CU Around Campus, I want to take another swing at the question and see if I can answer it better. In short, we have made progress in some, but not all, areas.
Our freshman class saw a slight increase in diversity enrollment, from 72 (9.4%) to 94 (10.8%). We struggled to make progress in our overall undergraduate programs, however. We went from 378 diverse students to 353, with the largest drop coming from Hispanic students, decreasing from 104 to 88. The largest increase came from those identifying as two or more races, which increased from 92 to 104.
We have held steady in faculty diversity at around 9 percent for the past several years, and have made small progress among staff, going from 4.2 percent last year to 6.1 percent this year. This number has fluctuated over the past three years.
Our best progress has come in graduate programs. This fall, the School of Pharmacy has a 30 percent diversity rate in its graduate program. Overall, last year’s summary of all graduate programs reported a 21.8 percent diversity rate. We rejoice at these numbers.
As you can see, we have mixed results. We need to do better in hiring faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds and in attracting more diverse undergraduate students. This will help us look more like heaven than we do now, enriching our community and our times of worship together. As we do this, we must stand together against racism of any kind, ensuring that everyone feels welcome here. In order for us to be successful, diversity efforts must grow organically from a theologically rooted community that truly appreciates what it means for everyone to be created in the image of God.
In the meantime, Greg Dyson, others, and I have worked hard to develop new partnerships that will help us with awareness, prospects, and, Lord willing, more diverse students, faculty, and staff. As part of those efforts, Mr. Dyson has just returned from leading our annual Civil Rights Tour. And we have developed a special scholarship opportunity with the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association (FBFA), an association of independent fundamentalist African-American churches. The group invited me to speak at its national convention a few years ago and again next summer when Cedarville will host its convention. Mr. Dyson and others represent Cedarville University regularly at many diverse meetings. We have made many new friends who love the Gospel and will continue to make more.
In fact, those efforts have led to an amazing story. I recount it to you the way I received it:
Daniel Brown and Joseph Kornegay are cousins. They are also both freshmen at Cedarville University. The other unique connection they have is that their grandfather, Rev. James D. Parker, Sr., is a Cedarville alumnus, but with a special distinction. In 1954, James Parker became the first African-American to be accepted as a student at Cedarville College. Rev. Parker recounts that someone on the faculty asked, “He’s African-American, is that a problem?” Dr. Jeremiah replied, “He’s a Christian, no problem here.” However, some in the student body, more impacted by the events in the country at that time, communicated to the administration that they did not believe this was the right time to bring an African-American on campus; should he come, many communicated that they would leave Cedarville. Dr. Jeremiah said they could never reapply if they left over this issue; no one left. Rev. Parker recalls with joy, “Because I had the support of the president, we made it through a difficult moment, and I was able to focus on learning rather than race.”
Today, we continue to follow Dr. Jeremiah’s example. We live in culturally challenging times, but as followers of Christ, let us lead the way. God created all mankind in His image. Everyone has equal value and worth in the eyes of God. Jesus died so that anyone who would repent and call on the name of Jesus could be saved. If you are not comfortable with diversity, then you will be really uncomfortable in heaven. You all know this, and I want to personally thank you for your continued efforts to create a genuine, authentic Christian community where we truly love God and love others.
In Christ Alone,
Cedarville University President