TU ranked as one the country’s most diverse campuses

By Kyle Hobstetter on September 22, 2019

Towson University is ranked as one of the Top 100 most diverse campus communities by U.S. News & World Report

Students posing on Tiger Statue

One of Towson University’s key values is diversity, and TU is committed to creating a multicultural campus that fosters a climate that is grounded in respect and inclusion.   

This year, TU was ranked as one of U.S. News & World Report's Top 100 universities in overall student diversity.

“Nearly half of this generation’s peer group are people of color, and I’m proud of the continued growth of our diversity at TU,” President Kim Schatzel said. “The diversity of backgrounds and identities in classroom and campus environments is a pre-requisite for the highest quality university education. With our minority students achieving the same graduation rates as our overall student population, Towson University is nationally recognized as a leader in inclusive student success.”

African American students at TU, as well as the full student body at the university, have the same graduation rate. And TU's incoming classes are increasingly more diverse.

“Each year, we increasingly admit our most diverse and academically prepared students, and this year, 22 percent of the incoming class was first generation," said Leah Cox, TU's vice president for inclusion and institutional equity. "Ultimately their success relies on our ability to create an inclusive environment and one that also supports them navigating our campus and resources.”  

In the U.S. News & World Report's rankings, TU received a diversity index score of 0.62. The formula ranges from 0 to 1, with the closer the school’s diversity index number is to one, the more diverse the student population. USNWR considers the total proportion of minority students and the overall mix of groups. Johns Hopkins, UMBC, University of Maryland-College Park and TU were the only institutions in Maryland on the list.

“The incredible momentum at TU is the result of the hard work and commitment across departments and divisions,” says Brian Jara, coordinator of diversity training and initiatives for TU’s Office of Inclusion and institutional Equity (OIIE).

“Our faculty and staff continue to find creative and engaging ways to support our students in the classrooms, in student organizations and in countless community outreach and service opportunities.” 

This fall, Towson University welcomed its most diverse freshmen class in school history. Of the approximately 2,700 freshmen on campus this fall, 48% identify as minorities, and 25% of the class identify as African-American. Both of those stat marks are new highs for TU.

When these students began their college career at summer orientation, they were stressed upon how much a priority a diverse and inclusive campus is to TU’s mission and values, and how it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers have defined career readiness as comprised of eight critical competencies, one of them being global / intercultural fluency. So not only is TU working to be more diverse, they are working to get students ready for the “real world”

“This ability to work across difference and learn how to adapt, how you interact meaningfully with others is now a crucial skill for thriving in the workforce,” Jara says.

Towson University’s diverse students are also thriving on campus. According to the U.S. Department of Education, TU has a zero percent achievement gap for minority students — who enjoy the same academic success and graduation rates as the entire campus population. 

TU’s six-year minority graduation rate is at 72%, which is well above the 43% national average. TU’s six-year graduation rate for African-American students also continues to be higher than the graduation rate for all TU students (72%). 

According to OIIE, TU is continuing to put an importance of equity, and how it is different from equality. The focus has shifted away from “sameness” as the goal, — since no two students ever have the same story or experience. 

Jara says OIIE, and the rest of campus, are now working towards maintaining equity and fairness in access, treatment and opportunity.

“Achieving equity requires that we keep in mind all of the differences in our students, staff and faculty,” Jara says. “Our students will enter a global community and we are providing them with multiple opportunities to engage with each other throughout their college experience.” 

Now more than ever, TU has made it easy to get involved with multicultural classes and organizations. Students can find organizations through Involved@TU, search for classes through the course catalog, work with the OIIE or the Center for Student Diversity, or even share suggestions for feedback on inclusion at TU

And sometimes it’s just as easy as going out of your way to meet new people on campus.

“Each one of us can have an active role by getting to know someone new at TU and be willing to engage in lively and sometimes challenging conversations,” Jara says. “To maintain both inclusion and diversity, we have to continue to create opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, for students to learn more about themselves and to how they can continue to help make TU a more inclusive community.”

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Diverse and Inclusive Campus.