News Release

Leaders celebrate successes, discuss strategies for strengthening diversity and access at the U of M

Three students, wearing masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, talk as they walk together along the sidewalks of the Northrop Mall on the Twin Cities campus

The University of Minnesota prioritizes attracting, retaining and graduating a diverse student body; one that fits within the many ways diversity can be defined. Next Thursday, in its Mission Fulfillment Committee, the University’s Board of Regents will discuss student diversity and academic outcomes in three focus areas: diversity in recruitment and admissions, student success and addressing achievement gaps and supporting diversity and success in the University’s Graduate School.

First-generation student status, socio-economic backgrounds, geographic diversity and race and ethnicity are among the many quantifiable ways that the University measures diversity throughout its five-campus system. In their discussion with the Board, University leaders will share systemwide and campus-by-campus demographic breakdowns and five-year statistical trends. The Board will also receive updates about initiatives underway to enhance diversity and inclusion, and consider what future opportunities may exist in alignment with the MPact 2025 Systemwide Strategic Plan.

Recruitment and admissions: The Board will focus on campus-level approaches that have proven to attract diverse students to the University, such as dedicated first-generation student recruitment at Crookston, which has led to an 11 percent increase in first-gen students. In addition, Morris’ new Transfer Student Services office will support all transfer students, but in particular will develop deep relationships with Minnesota Tribal colleges to help students transfer to the Morris campus. 

Addressing achievement gaps: Currently, academic outcomes vary widely among student populations across the University. For example, the systemwide first-year retention rate for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) undergraduate students compared to white peers is almost even. Yet, disparities persist comparing these groups four years later, when four-year graduation rates show a 6 percent gap.

Graduate School diversity: The Board will discuss efforts to retain BIPOC graduate students. Data from the most recent five years show a positive trend in this space, with BIPOC students currently returning at a rate relatively equal to their white peers. To continue this momentum, the Graduate School is focusing efforts more than ever toward fostering a welcoming community that values inclusive ideas. This investment was reflected when 100 percent of BIPOC graduate students who responded agreed that the overall environment in their graduate program was “positive and welcoming” in the most recent annual climate survey.

“There is a strong, collective story of intentional efforts and initiatives to diversify the student body at the University of Minnesota, in the many different ways diversity can be viewed,” said Board Chair Ken Powell. “The data clearly illustrate the strengths and opportunities in this space for each of our campuses and the system as a whole. These speak directly to priorities and goals of the MPact 2025 Systemwide Strategic Plan and we look forward to continuing this important work in the future.” 

A nationally known example of how this work has proven to deliver results across a collection of measures is the celebrated story of the University of Minnesota Rochester. The health sciences-focused campus continues to recruit, retain and graduate diverse students at rates that are among the best in the country, delivering the inclusive and equitable education that fits the University’s vision.

As part of its February meetings, the Board is also expected to:

  • Discuss employee compensation as part of an annual report on the topic from the University’s Vice President for Human Resources, Ken Horstman.
  • Receive an overview of comparative tuition rates and strategies for the University’s Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester campuses.
  • Act on the University’s employment agreement for Dr. Calvin Phillips, the University’s incoming vice president for student affairs and dean of students
  • Discuss an early annual budget framework for the University’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
  • Act on a set of guiding principles for future campus master planning for the Twin Cities campus and across the system.
  • Discuss the vision for the evolution of the Twin Cities campus to inform updates to the campus’ master plan.
  • Act on proposed changes to Board policy that would permit select licensing and sponsorship relationships between the University and alcoholic beverage manufacturers.
  • Act on proposed progress measures aligned with MPact 2025, the University’s systemwide strategic plan.
  • Discuss the findings and recommendations of the comprehensive public safety review of the Twin Cities campus. The report’s author, Dr. Cedric Alexander, will join the Board for this discussion.

For more information, including future meeting times, visit  

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations
Fri, 02/05/2021 - 10:32
Leaders celebrate successes, discuss strategies for strengthening diversity and access at the U of M
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities