Draft of Diversity Working Group’s admissions and recruitment suggestions unveiled

nsoThe working group hopes to include diversity discussion in NSO

In a campuswide e-mail yesterday evening, the Office of the Provost announced that the Admissions and Recruitment Working Group has put together a draft proposal for changes to Georgetown’s recruitment process.

The changes, which are meant to encourage a more diverse student body, are not official, and the “plan for implementation” of any changes will not arrive until January 2010, after community comment. However, the e-mail, signed by Provost James O’Donnell and Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny, did indicate that the suggestions would be “immensely helpful” to the University’s ongoing recruitment of the Class of 2014.

Suggestions for altering the admissions and recruitment process, according to the nineteen-page working group report (PDF) provided by link in the e-mail, include, among other things:

  • Prominently advertising the 1,789 new scholarships that Georgetown will be adding to encourage need-blind admissions over the next five years to potential students.
  • Looking into strategies that will increase the likelihood that an accepted student from an underrepresented group will attend Georgetown
  • Increasing the diversity of Blue and Gray tour guides and their knowledge of diversity issues and clubs on campus.
  • Including imagery on Georgetown’s redesigned website that highlights campus diversity.
  • Including a required essay prompt that invites students to discuss how their background or life experience would enrich Georgetown on applications.

These proposed changes are aimed at increasing campus diversity and cross-cultural engagement. The report notes that relative to peer universities, Georgetown has a very low attendance yield among its accepted minority applicants.

On the financial aid front, the report also includes several suggestions for restructuring financial aid in ways that would make the process seem less daunting, such as hiring bilingual staff members in the Office of Financial Aid, and recommends that fundraising for future financial aid have an emphasis on need-blind aid admissions.

The group is one of the three Diversity Working Groups which President John DeGioia formed in April in response to the SCUnity Report, which studied diversity at Georgetown, and several bias-related incidents that took place in the Spring semester.

The same e-mail described the progress the two other groups have made.  The Student Life Working Group, it said, is involved in discussions to expand diversity dialog to residence halls, students groups, and New Student Orientation. The Academic Working Group has already submitted “proposals for programs in African-American, Latino/a, and Asian-American studies,” which are being reviewed, and should be actionable by February 2010.

A forum for comments on the Admissions and Recruitment Working Group’s proposals will take place on Friday, December 4 at 2:oo p.m. in ICC 105.

Below is the full text of the e-mail.

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,

We are writing to provide you with an update on the work of the Diversity and Inclusiveness Initiative, whose three working groups are developing recommendations to the two of us and President DeGioia about how Georgetown can strengthen our approach to creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive undergraduate community.

During the semester we have been coordinating the efforts of our working groups on Admissions and Recruitment, Student Life and Academics.  We are pleased that each of these groups, which include students, faculty, staff and senior leaders, have worked purposefully and are making substantial progress.  More than forty members of our community are generously participating at this stage of our work, animated by the yearning to see Georgetown realize our promise as a multicultural community committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and citizenship.  The groups are addressing questions of different scope; therefore, their recommendations may emerge at separate times.  Below please find a description of the mission and direction of each group.

1. Admissions and Recruitment Working Group

This Working Group has carried out its discussion at an intensive pace, energized by the opportunity to put into practice in the Spring 2010 semester new ideas and structures that will be immediately helpful as we recruit the class of 2014.  With that in mind, we are distributing to the University community a copy of this group’s draft recommendations for comment.  Please feel free to review the report, available at the link below, and to offer any comments before the recommendations are finalized.


The Admissions and Recruitment Working Group very much looks forward to hearing your ideas and perspectives.  If you would like to make comments or suggestions, you may do so either via email at diversityinitiative@georgetown.edu or in person.  The Working Group is holding an open meeting on Friday, December 4th at 2:00 pm in ICC 105.

After hearing from the community, the Working Group will submit its final recommendations to the two of us and Dr. DeGioia.  We will review the recommendations over the mid-semester break and then respond in January 2010 with a plan for implementation.

2. Student Life Working Group

The Student Life Working Group is considering the student experience beyond the classroom, including life in our residence halls, student organizations, New Student Orientation and the general climate of the campus.  It has taken some quick action steps, including the launch of a series of collaborative luncheons that bring together student leaders from all corners of the campus.  The Working Group is pursuing several strategies to strengthen our campus community, including a new intergroup dialogue initiative, changes to student leadership education, and new programs and approaches in the residence halls.  It is also crafting a narrative that will frame our goals for “community in diversity,” as our Catholic and Jesuit mission calls us to do.  The Student Life Working Group will continue meeting through the early part of the Spring semester, and will submit final recommendations in April 2010.  It still welcomes new students to join the conversation in its Working Group and two subcommittees – on Institutional Change and Student Organizations and Programs.  If you are interested in participating, please feel free to email diversityinitiative@georgetown.edu.

3. Academic Working Group

The Diversity in Academics Working Group is considering how diversity fits into Georgetown’s curriculum, including the nature of programs and courses as well as pedagogy.  It has learned about prior efforts to expand academic attention to diversity, discussed relevant issues (e.g. curriculum overall and in specific areas, diversity in the faculty), and reviewed programs and syllabi at other institutions.  A series of departmental conversations has been initiated, stimulating two-way learning about how different departments address diversity through their course offerings or pedagogy.  Proposals for programs in African-American, Latino/a, and Asian-American studies are being reviewed, feeding into ongoing discussions about existing and potential course offerings.  All departments and programs were asked to share existing syllabi that their members thought could relate to diversity, and this material will be reviewed and analyzed to help develop an understanding of parameters for a possible requirement.  The Working Group hopes to conclude its work in late February 2010.  Its members welcome input to their deliberations.  Please feel free to contact them via email at diversityinitiative@georgetown.edu.

Thank you for your contribution to this major initiative.  Working together, we can create a community that maximizes the blessings of diversity.

James O’Donnell

Rosemary Kilkenny
Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity

Photo by Helen Burton

8 Comments on “Draft of Diversity Working Group’s admissions and recruitment suggestions unveiled

  1. “Prominently advertising the 1,789 new, need-blind scholarships that Georgetown will be adding over the next five years to potential students. ”

    Need-blind scholarships? Really? They’ll be giving them to people whether they demonstrate financial need or not?

  2. “and recommends that fundraising for future financial aid have an emphasis on need-blind aid.” Really, the emphasis is on aid that will go to students regardless of their level of financial aid? Some on, guys, this completely changes the meaning of what is written.

  3. You’re right, I should have indicated that the scholarships are not need-blind, they are meant to encourage need-blind admissions.

  4. The need-blind admissions policy refers to the University’s review of an application without analyzing the financial need of the applicant. Basically, they are trying to give everyone a fair opportunity to get into Georgetown regardless of the applicants ability to pay. After acceptance the University will then meet demonstrated need, therefore giving us a need-blind” policy. Georgetown has had this policy since the 1970’s and it has helped make us into a nationally recognized institution.

  5. If black kids don’t want to be Blue & Gray tour guides, why are we going to force them? Should the admissions office go out and ask them one-by-one to please lead a tour? How about minority students take the initiative to make their presence felt in all aspects of campus life rather than hanging out in the Black House and BSA events, pretending that they’re not being a part of Blue & Gray (or any other group) is somehow that group’s fault.

  6. tim – that is an absurd generalization, i don’t really know what to tell you or how to understand how you understand that black people are blaming white people for black people being involved… it seems more like you are blaming black people for not being involved in a process that white people blame them for not being involved in. there are 10 times as many white people as black people at georgetown, you can’t expect black people do be in ten times as many places as their white peers.

    and how did this get to be about black people? blue and grey and gaap are both predominately white groups – black students arent the only people not represented in those groups… why are you singling out black people? i havent read the report but i seriously doubt/hope they didnt say they were going to force black people to stand alongside their white peers and say how great it is at georgetown for minorities… lol imagine that…

  7. Pingback: Vox Populi » At diversity open forum, new SCU Chair gets food for thought

  8. Pingback: Vox Populi » Provost O’Donnell on the progress of Georgetown’s diversity working groups

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