For the second year, La Sierra University has placed No. 1 in the nation for the diversity of its campus in the second annual college rankings guide released Sept. 26, 2017, by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and its partner company, Times Higher Education (THE).
La Sierra topped the environment category of the WSJ/THE U.S. College Rankings 2018, which rates more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the United States. Environment, one of four key areas explored in calculating the overall ranking, considers overall diversity and inclusiveness by looking at the proportion of international students, diversity of students, faculty and staff, percentage of Pell grant recipients and number of students who are first in their families to attend college. The other three main criteria used to create the ranking include academic resources, student outcomes, and student engagement.
|La Sierra University students head to class the first week of the new school year following academic convocation at the La Sierra University Church on Sept. 26, 2017.
Photo by Natan Vigna
La Sierra is located in the most diverse state in the nation, according to U.S. census data, and resides in the highly diverse Inland Empire comprised of Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California. In fall 2016, the university’s undergraduate Hispanic student enrollment stood at 46.6 percent and Pell grant recipients at nearly 43 percent. About one in nine are international students.
“La Sierra University is mindful of the privilege and responsibility to serve our remarkably diverse student body,” said Randal Wisbey, La Sierra University president. “We are committed to making the most of the breadth of experiences found in our student’s individual stories. These stories enhance and enliven the discussions in our classrooms, transform our understanding and experience of community, and create confident graduates able to communicate in an increasingly diverse world.”
Provost Joy Fehr added that the university’s strong diversity is one of its key strengths. “The opportunity all members of our campus community have to interact with so many unique points of view creates a rich learning and working environment. As a result, we are well prepared to reach beyond our campus and positively change our world,” she said.
The university strengthens its students’ abilities to succeed through a variety of programs. The Office of Advising and Career Services provides one-on-one coaching, career workshops, and a collaborative "First-Year Experience" program for freshmen that helps them stay on track academically and pursue career goals. In fall 2015, La Sierra University received a $2.6 million federal Title V grant to enhance educational services for Latino and underserved students. Programs implemented with this grant include the Summer Bridge math program begun in 2016 which helps freshmen better their college-level math placement scores. Additionally, the funds support a tutoring center in the advising and career services office and an AVID for Higher Education program, which helps support college students to keep them enrolled and complete their education.
In the WSJ/THE college ranking environment category, California State University, Northridge came in second, with the University of California, Los Angeles tied for 8th along with Cal State Long Beach and two campuses of the City University of New York. An article describing the environment category cites the perception problem burdening the nation’s elite universities and their struggle to attract a diverse student body. For instance, Stanford University, which ranked No. 3 in the nation overall, came in at No. 54 in the environment classification. Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, took the nation’s top spot in the college guide and ranked No. 145 for environment.
London-based Times Higher Education, which produces World University Rankings, is described as the leading provider of higher education data for the world’s top research-based institutions. The 2018 WSJ/THE college ranking methodology utilized 15 individual performance indicators within the four main categories, and includes the results of THE’s U.S. Student Survey of 200,000 current students.
La Sierra’s placement in the WSJ/THE diversity ranking follows the university’s strong standing in the annual U.S. News & World Report 2018 Best Colleges guide published Sept. 12. The university continued an upward trajectory in the U.S. News rankings, placing at 44th out of 141 schools in the 15-state western region, six spots higher than its listing in last year’s U.S. News guide for Best Regional Universities in the West.
Further information about the WSJ/THE U.S. College Rankings 2018 is available at these links: https://www.timeshighereducation.com; and https://www.wsj.com/news/types/journal-reports-college-rankings.
— Darla Martin Tucker is director of public relations for La Sierra University.