An annual college guide published Sept. 21, 2021, by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Times Higher Education (THE) has once again ranked La Sierra University No. 1 in the nation for its "Environment," a classification that scores various aspects of a school’s diversity.
The ranking in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2022 marks the fourth time La Sierra University has landed in the top national spot for its diverse environment, a category that rates universities and colleges in areas of racial and ethnic diversity among faculty and students, percentages of international students, and numbers of undergraduates receiving federal Pell Grants. La Sierra University also scored the top national spot for its diverse environment for the 2017, 2018, and 2021 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college guides, and landed in the second spot nationally in the intervening years for the same category. The guides are released in the fall for the following year.
“We are thrilled to once again receive national recognition for an aspect of our university that is so very important to achieving our mission of seeking truth, knowing God and serving others,” said La Sierra University president Joy Fehr. “A diversity of backgrounds and experiences among our students, our faculty, and our campus as a whole far better enables us to encourage critical thinking that challenges assumptions, to inspire broad curiosity and creativity and to help our students develop a deep empathy for others whose views might be different from their own.”
The Wall Street Journal college guide cites La Sierra’s undergraduate demographics as 48 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian, 12 percent white and 7 percent Black, with about 50 percent receiving Pell Grants. Data for the rankings was derived from a variety of sources including the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the College Scorecard, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the Times Higher Education U.S. Student Survey, among others.
The WSJ noted that the 2022 rankings were based partly on data derived prior to widespread campus shutdowns last year as a result of the encroaching COVID-19 pandemic. La Sierra’s campus moved to online operations March 16, 2020, in keeping with government mandates, and has reopened for in-person learning this fall. La Sierra’s classes for the 2021-22 fall quarter began on Sept. 27.
The 2022 WSJ/THE college guide ranked 796 schools around the country on 15 factors across four primary categories — student outcomes, academic resources, student engagement, and the diversity of the learning environment. Criteria for the latter category looked at whether the school is providing a diverse learning environment for all students and whether it seeks to attract a diverse student body and faculty.
La Sierra is designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education and over the past several years has initiated Title V-grant supported programs for math and STEM areas aimed at supporting Hispanic and disadvantaged students and bolstering overall program offerings. The university’s AVID for Higher Education program aims to bridge gaps in student success as does the Office of Advising and Career Success with a focus on supporting students from diverse backgrounds.
Last year, during a summer of unrest and a national focus on systemic racism, the university engaged a group of students in helping to strengthen its ongoing commitment to ensuring equity, particularly for Black students. A quarterly masterclass on diversity was also implemented. This fall, the university’s department of History, Politics & Sociology is offering a new curriculum in Black studies which follows prior courses on the civil rights movement, race, class, and gender in American history, among others.
The Wall Street Journal college rankings follows the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2022 guide released on Sept. 13 and which ranked La Sierra University 11th out of 122 schools in 15 western states for social mobility, a category that assesses universities on their success in enrolling and graduating students who are recipients of federal Pell Grants.