Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A Catholic and Dominican Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Solidarity

Diversity is good as willed by God

The Catholic Faith teaches that the diversity of creatures is a positive good willed by God so that his glory might be more perfectly reflected in his creation: “God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular goodness, their interdependence and their order.”[1] This diversity is reflected in the great and wonderful order of God’s creation, but above all in the splendid variety of human races, cultures, and traditions. Founded by Christ to bring unity to the human family through the offer of filial adoption in Christ, the Catholic Church embraces this rich diversity: “From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church’s members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. . . The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (Ephesians 4:3).[2]

Diversity is a part of God’s providential plan for our growth in virtue in preparation for eternal life

Under divine providence, the diversity of the human family plays an essential purpose in the growth in virtue to which we are called. In a vision to our Dominican sister St. Catherine of Siena, the Lord explained that the diversity of gifts and talents plays a positive role in God’s plan to unite us in the practice of charity: “I distribute the virtues quite diversely; I do not give all of them to each person, but some to one, some to others. . . . I shall give principally charity to one; justice to another; humility to this one, a living faith to that one. . . . And so I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual and temporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so that you may be constrained to practice charity towards one another. . . . I have willed that one should need another and that all should be my ministers in distributing the graces and gifts they have received from me.”[3] This unique Dominican perspective sees diversity as a playing a providential role in our growth in virtue, especially the supreme virtue of charity.

Solidarity in our common nature, Savior, and destiny grounds the goodness of our diversity

The Catholic and Dominican approach to diversity maintains the compatibility of a rich diversity with a harmonious unity due to the fundamental human solidarity we possess by our common nature and common destiny under God’s providence. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles.”[4] The Catholic and Dominican valuation of diversity is grounded in the fundamental solidarity that unites us as human beings made in God’s image and likeness, redeemed by Christ his Son, and destined for a shared life of perfect virtue in his Kingdom. And as such, the Catholic and Dominican approach to diversity avoids many of the pitfalls of alternative ideologies. We affirm the value of diverse cultures, perspectives, approaches, and ideas, without despairing of the possibility of being united in the truth of our common human nature, the truth of our common destiny, and the truth of Jesus Christ. We refuse to accept the easy panacea of relativism because we hold in reverence the truth and beauty of our human solidarity as knowers and lovers of truth.

Solidarity spurs us to work for equity

Our commitment to solidarity informs our mission to contribute to the common good of our community by doing our part to promote equity and justice. As the Second Vatican Council states, “excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.”[5] As a Catholic institution of higher education originally founded to serve a poor and persecuted multicultural population of Catholic immigrants, we are called by Christ to do our part to address the inequities that persist in our nation.

Toward Diversity, Equity, and Solidarity

Demographic trends indicate that college campuses will see major shifts in the coming years: 1) decreases in high school graduates overall, primarily amongst White students 2) stark increases in students of color, primarily Hispanic and Asian, 2) increases in first-generation students, and 4) increases in students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Providence College is experiencing the first tremors of these shifts as our own student racial diversity has increased over the last several years along with enrollment of first-generation students. Rising tuition costs have resulted in greater financial need, even for middle-class families whose wages have largely stagnated over the last several years. Most of our students come from the Northeast, which is set to produce fewer high school graduates but larger percentages of students of color (primarily Hispanic). These shifts in demographics amongst high school graduates over the next several years invite us to contemplate who we are in relation to a new generation of students, staff, faculty, and administrators and how we can best work, study, and live together. Over the next several paragraphs, we will review diversity trends in higher education and explore strategies and best practices for diversity, equity, and solidarity.

Diversity, Equity, and Solidarity Trends in Higher Education

American colleges and universities observed the Missouri student protests with much apprehension, wondering if their own students were planning similar demonstrations and what they would demand of their administrations. As the demands were made public, many were shocked to see one demand dedicated solely to increases in funding and resources to the Missouri Counseling Center on a rather short list of demands. Student activists penned, “We demand that the University of Missouri increase funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals, particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.”[6] While this may have been shocking a few decades ago, studies indicate that more students with mental health concerns are enrolling in college. According to a 2015 survey by the American College Health Association of 17,000 students at 40 colleges and universities, 36% of undergraduate respondents had experienced debilitating depression in the last year and 10% had contemplated suicide.[7] The strain on college counseling centers is tremendous as they work with students with a range of illnesses and stressors.

Policies on emotional-support animals and whether suicidal students can stay on campus are being re-evaluated. Student requests to bring emotional-support animals are increasing. Animals range from dogs and cats to rabbits, ferrets, tarantulas, and pigs. Students are required to submit documentation along with their request, which some believe weeds out the frivolous requests but others worry that documentation is easily acquired through internet clinicians for as little as $150. Changes in ADA no longer allow colleges and universities to forcibly remove a student from campus solely because they pose a threat to themselves as updated regulations tend to focus on whether the student is a threat to others. For students, forced removal feels like a punishment, particularly if the institution requires them to apply for readmission. At the time of the article, Yale was in the process of revising their readmission policy in the wake of a student suicide in 2014.[8] Policies on emotional-support animals are also being re-evaluated.

In addition to student mental health concerns, there is an increasing need to create accessible campus environments to accommodate students with physical or learning disabilities. Universal design now extends beyond approaches to pedagogy to approaches for designing structures and buildings. This is challenging for older campuses in older cities where the simplest and least expensive strategy for physical accommodation is sometimes new construction.[9] Students with learning disabilities are also enrolling at higher rates. However, many students with learning disabilities attempt to get by without medical support during their first year(s) of college, resulting in numerous academic (and possibly social) problems. One study found that 94% of learning disabled students receive accommodations in high school compared to just 17% in college.[10]

As demographic shifts indicate, colleges and universities will enroll more first generation students and low-income students. Not all first-generation students are low-income students but the research tends to discuss these markers simultaneously. First-generation students are defined differently across the data but the general rule seems to be students whose parents did not complete a two-year or four-year degree. One survey found that, of the students who entered four-year colleges as first-year students last year, “more than 45 percent reported that their fathers had no college degree of any kind, and 42 percent said their mothers lacked degrees.”[11] First-generation students face a unique set of barriers. First-generation students tend to take on more family responsibilities, which compete with coursework for their time and attention. They also work longer hours, “are less likely to live on campus, and are more likely to have parents who would struggle to complete financial-aid forms. They’re also more likely to arrive academically unprepared for the rigors of college and to require remediation before they can start earning college credit.”[12] First-generation and low-income students are least likely to complete college in comparison with their more affluent peers. Only 9% of students in the bottom income quartile complete college along with 17% of students in the second lowest income quartile complete college in comparison with the 77% of students in the top income quartile.[13]

Low-income students may also face hunger and homelessness. In Fall 2016, a 12-state survey of 3,800 mostly undergraduate students found that more than one in five students at 26 four-year institutions said they had gone hungry in the past month. Nearly half of the respondents described themselves as housing- or food-insecure, meaning that they could not regularly afford to pay rent or buy groceries. More than half of the hungry students received the Pell grant and 56% were employed.[14] More low-income and first-generation students enrolling in college and rising tuition costs are key contributors to the rise of student hunger, which forces some students to make choices about where to spend precious resources: tuition or food and shelter.

The challenges facing first-generation and low-income students become more pronounced at elite colleges where wealth and affluence are presented as the norm. Low-income and poverty are deemed “culturally lacking, deficient, or unintelligent, which leaves low-income students feeling delegitimized.”[15] In the same article, Elizabeth Lee notes that these underlying messages about social class and belonging undercut explicit welcome messages from faculty and administrators. These subtle messages include public talks that make middle/upper-class lifestyles and accomplishments the norm. Lee also referenced daily practices that are deeply classed, though not necessarily classist, like presuming students have family members who can connect them to summer internships. She also notes faculty and administrators assuming that their students know how to self-advocate. For first-generation and low-income students, rules are not flexible as they are for high-income students so they are reluctant to ask for help, like extensions on academic deadlines, and assume that others are reluctant as well. Subtle, classed language and behaviors have a negative impact on students’ mental, emotional, and even physical health, which sometimes lead to them withdrawing socially and, thereby, failing to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them at elite colleges.[16]

It’s helpful to understand that the issues facing first-generation and low-income students cannot be resolved exclusively by increased aid. While navigating the financial aspects of college is indeed burdensome for first-generation and low-income students, Lee and others also allude the cultural distinctions between working class students and affluent students that impede access largely because the inner workings of elite colleges function according to the cultural value system of the wealthy. These “micro-barriers” are often the unwritten, unspoken rules that are quite impactful over the course of a collegiate career: who gets certain job opportunities, who makes it into the right student groups, and who gets connected to the most helpful alumni.[17] When attending to the needs of first-generation and low-income students, it’s important to note that increased aid must be coupled with academic, social, and professional (labor market connections) support.

Racial diversity on college campuses is already increasing and many research organizations have reasonably concluded that this will continue as the pool of high school graduates shifts over the next several years. Most colleges will see an increase in Hispanic students and Asian students along with a decline in White students and continuous, steady enrollment of African American/Black students.[18] On some level, this will be a natural increase however, failure to properly navigate the increase in racial diversity can result in significant losses. The University of Missouri’s first-year student enrollment is down 35%, due largely to broken systems that didn’t adequately make room for students of color, which resulted in public outcry against these systems, and a series of blunders in the aftermath.[19] Increasing racial diversity on college campuses raises a number of questions about how to best serve students and ensure that they have equitable access to opportunities. Higher education is a key pathway to social mobility for first-generation students, low-income students, and for students of color. It is also the case that “gaps in college opportunity have contributed to diminished social mobility (e.g., the ability to jump to higher income levels across generations) within the United States, and gaps in college opportunity are in turn influenced by disparities in students’ experiences before graduating from high school.”[20] Nonetheless, many structural, academic, and social barriers exist that need to be pinpointed and excised for the sake of student success.

Disparities in K-12 education, particularly for low-income students and students of color, exacerbate the structural, academic, and social barriers that exist in higher education. These disparities not only contribute to who enrolls in college but also the courses students take and the majors they select once in college. First-generation, low-income students, and students of color are more likely to be placed in developmental courses, which students have to pay for even though they’re not credit eligible, in addition to impeding their retention and graduation rates, graduate school participation rates, and access to opportunities for deep and engaged learning throughout their post-secondary careers.[21] Relatedly, first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color are also underrepresented in STEM, which provide the greatest opportunities for stable employment in the future.[22] First-generation students, low-income students, and students of color are less likely to participate in high-impact practices like, learning communities, service learning, research with faculty, internships or field experiences, study abroad programs, and capstone experiences despite the fact that these HIPs are associated with enhanced student learning because they provide opportunities to hone intellectual, problem-solving, and ethical decision-making skills.[23]

Like first-generation and low-income students, students of color face social barriers that are just as impactful on their academic performance as the systemic barriers they face. A sense of belonging is incredibly important for college students, particularly for students who are minoritized on a college campus. As protests and demonstrations engulfed our own campus, one of the principle demands was for a multicultural center.[24] Critics of cultural spaces contend that these spaces create silos for minority students on campus but campus life personnel usually argue that these spaces simply provide a place for students to retreat without limiting their opportunities to interact across differences. In a “colorblind” society, it’s hard to grasp why students of color would need space into which they can “retreat.” However, a closer glance at any of the minoritized groups we’ve discussed thus far sheds light on the way these groups experience a campus. Low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color discern quickly that they are not the norm and that their experiences are not the standard. What begins early on in their academic career is a mental process of translating, filtering, comparing, and code-switching between their identities and the identities of the dominant culture. This is an exhausting process for any minoritized group, one that is suspended when students gather with other working-class students, other students of color, other first-generation students, etc. For decades now, we’ve known that increased racial diversity on a college campus is a good thing for all students. However, Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, notes that a racially diverse campus is only half the battle. Students won’t naturally figure out how to interact with one another or resolve conflicts.[25] Faculty, staff, and administrators must provide the structures and processes to equip students to engage in fruitful diverse interactions. This is the case for long-standing, more traditionally recognized aspects of diversity like race, class, and gender but also for newly recognized aspects of diversity and identity like political ideology.

Our increasingly polarized political landscape is slowly trickling into the academy with each passing election cycle. In the last several years, a number of scholars have identified what is now being referred to as anti-conservative bias, which encapsulates anti-Christian (anti-evangelical) bias and anti-Republican bias.[26] This has been the subject of a series of articles and numerous books with a heightened focus on American higher education. This is largely because American higher education tends to operate on progressive values, which necessarily minoritizes non-progressives. Mark Lilla, in a Chronicle of Higher Education article, noted that conservatism in higher education is treated more like a pathology than a respectable political tradition.[27] Nicholas Kristoff believes that the academy has become more ideologically isolated in recent years, which impedes students’ ability to learn about their own country.[28] However, even within college campuses, both Lilla and Kristoff note examples of bias against perceived conservatism in hiring and tenure but also in marginalization of conservative students within classrooms.

Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist from New York University, believes that a new normal has emerged, one in which ideas and beliefs that seem threatening to us are vehemently resisted and suppressed in the name of justice and peace. Haidt believes that humans evolved a “tribal mindset” to help us navigate violent conflicts but that this “tribal mindset” is being utilized in higher education in ways that are damaging to the tolerance, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of truth. These tribal sentiments have led some members of academic communities to believe that “their noble collective ends [of justice and peace] justify almost any means, including the demonization of inconvenient research and researchers, false accusations, character assassination, and sometimes even violence.”[29] In the wake of Mr. Trump’s election to the American presidency, Kristoff expects anti-conservative sentiments to worsen. What we have already seen is a growing number of controversial speakers being invited to campus, resistance to said speakers, damage to institutional property, and inflammatory rhetoric flying in a number of directions. Colleges and universities will want to attend to political ideology, which is a growing aspect of diversity and identity within the academy.

Strategies and Best Practices for Diversity, Equity, and Solidarity

As American colleges and universities become increasingly diverse, we are challenged to seek out methods and strategies to best serve the students we admit to our campuses. Students with disabilities and mental health concerns, first-generation students, low-income students and students with high financial need, students of color, and conservative students are all emerging from our blind spots to remind us that they too are members of campus community.

Many campuses make a valiant effort at providing resources for diverse student populations. Campuses are not only approving student requests for emotional-support animals but Oklahoma State is exploring special housing to accommodate students with emotional-support animals, particularly in light of students who have allergies and phobias.[30] There is some disagreement on the best approach to handle students at risk of suicide. Administrators say that students need to be home under close supervision and away from the social and academic stressors of college but students feel as though their removal is a punishment. Campuses are exploring their readmission policies for students who take medical leave.

Some colleges and universities are taking the “universal design” approach to ensure that structures and buildings are accessible to everyone. Not just accessible entrances but designing all buildings with elevators, automatic doors, and non-staircase entrances to buildings as well as wider corridors in residence halls to allow for wheelchairs. UVA is exploring landscape architecture to ensure that its lawn is more accessible to students with physical impairments and also designing new wheelchair accessible dorm-rooms, including refrigerators and freezers, and bathrooms.[31] For students with learning disabilities, Landmark College offers a 5-week summer course to help students “learn about their disability, identify reading, writing, and note-taking strategies and tools to help them become academically successful, and learn to self-advocate.”[32] This program costs $7,500 but it does offer financial aid packages. There was no available data on student participants who have completed the program and returned to their own institutions.

Many colleges are adopting program to better support low-income students, particularly those who suffer from hunger and homelessness. More than 400 colleges and universities belong to the National Food Bank Alliance, which means they have a food bank for students on campus. Food vendors at Santa Monica College now accept food stamps. Some 23 campuses are a part of an initiative, Swipe Out Hunger, which allows students to donate unused meal swipes to other students. Some campuses offer emergency aid programs and short-term loans to help students with unexpected expenses. NYU is experimenting with a year-round program that will match students with elderly residents who have spare bedrooms, which would save students money on rent.[33]

To support first-generation students, campuses are advised to bring students to campus early. Princeton has been working to recruit first-generation and low-income students but recently developed a “Freshman Scholars Institute” to help students foster a sense of belonging but also help students find their scholarly voice as knowledge creators in the academy. This program runs prior to orientation but has since been expanded to provide support throughout all four years of the undergraduate experience. Brown University just opened its first center for first-generation and low-income students. The University of Kentucky and other campuses are doing first-generation living and learning communities.[34] Several articles referenced the importance of mentoring for first-generation and low-income college students. Not only peer mentors and faculty mentors but even community mentors who can connect students to internships and help students navigate the unwritten rules.[35] Additionally, it is also recommended that institutions use the backgrounds of incoming students to support the “cultural capital” they bring with them into the institution but to also help them build cultural capital through engagement in activities and clubs on campus.[36] Lastly, it is recommended that institutions pay particular attention to course sequencing and, along with that, student skillsets. For instance, if a student didn’t perform well on the verbal portion of the SAT, they should be advised to refrain from taking several courses that focus on verbal competencies within the first semester and/or the same semester. The idea is to help students cultivate skills without exposing them to a needlessly difficult, and potentially detrimental, academic experience.[37]

Several campuses are exploring dialogue as an approach to equip students with the skills for fruitful diverse interactions. After a video surfaced showing a University of Oklahoma fraternity singing a racist chant, the institution implemented a five-hour diversity training on race for first-year students during orientation. However, this training was not a traditional diversity training but an experience built on the InterGroup Dialogues model developed by researchers at University of Michigan. The first half of the training introduced students to the concept of respectful dialogue and, during the second half of the training, students actually practice dialogues on race with one another.[38] Cornell hosts a dinner series on campus called, “Breaking Bread,” which invites 2-3 student groups to have dinner and get to know each other. “Breaking Bread” is a part of Cornell’s InterGroup Dialogues program.[39] Courses that utilize dialogical pedagogy, like InterGroup Dialgoues, to help students explore differences and garner the skills for dialogue, empathy, perspective-taking, complex thinking, and problem-solving are also recommended.[40] Zuniga et al have found that InterGroup dialogues courses are able to help students cultivate these skills due to the sustained nature of these conversations over the course of the semester with the same group of peers.[41] Haidt recommends dialogue as a means of helping progressives and conservatives build relationships and understanding across differences.[42] Haidt argues rather convincingly from his research that people don’t change their minds when they’ve been outreasoned by their opponent. Rather, they attempt to hold their intellectual/ideological ground unless they can be reasonably sure that the other person is trustworthy, cares about them, and respects them. Haidt also recommends that campuses host more conservative speakers and that faculty not only encourage their students to attend but attend these events themselves in order to model what healthy engagement across ideological differences looks like. Kristoff recommends that campuses recruit for intellectual and ideological diversity. As students enter an ideologically diverse society, it is imperative that they are prepared to seriously engage and work collaboratively with their fellow citizens. In addition to dialogue, courses like “Conservative Political Thought” introduce students to the conservative intellectual tradition, which has the effect of untangling stereotypes students may have of their more conservative peers.[43]

In a landmark study exploring predictors of success among students of color at Christian colleges and universities, Allison Ash and Laurie Schreiner identified four key contributors to student thriving: a psychological sense of community, student-faculty interaction, interracial peer interactions, and spirituality.

Creating a Sense of Community

Students of color who reported a sense of belonging to their institution were more likely to graduate. This psychological sense of belonging fosters a community that transcends ethnic-racial differences through a shared sense of ownership, social support, and interdependence. Ash and Schreiner report that “a psychological sense of community begins with membership signals that lead to a sense of belonging on campus. Such membership signals include entrance ceremonies, traditions, and rituals that can begin at orientation, as well as rites of passage recognizing students’ successful progression toward graduation.”[44] Ash and Schreiner note that the presence of faculty, staff, and administrators of color on campus are another important membership signal for students of color. Recruiting students of color to serve as student leaders, to participate in student event planning, and to engage in research with faculty are all important ways to foster a sense of membership in the community.[45]

Student-Faculty Interaction

Positive student-faculty interaction contributes positively to the thriving of students of color. Ash and Schreiner survey several studies that show that “the amount of contact with faculty, the quality of those interactions, interacting with faculty outside of class, and perceiving that faculty were sensitive to the needs of diverse learners most significantly contributed to their ability to thrive.”[46] The greatest effect was found in student-faculty interactions outside of the classroom, and discussions with faculty about academic issues was found to have a direct impact on intent to graduate.

Interracial Peer Interactions

Studies have shown that interracial peer interactions has been found to correlate with both positive student-faculty interaction and a greater psychological sense of belonging on campus.[47] Unsurprisingly, rewarding interracial peer interactions have also been demonstrated to correlate with positive perceptions of campus racial climate. Ash and Schreiner also found that positive interracial peer interactions contribute directly and significantly to “students’ perceptions of institutional integrity and levels of thriving.”[48]


Ash and Schreiner found that the level of spirituality reported by students of color “contributed significantly and directly to their perception of institutional fit.”[49] In the same study, it was found that students of color “who reported high levels of spirituality were also more likely to report a sense of community on campus.”[50] It was found that, “Spirituality was not only a lens through which campus experiences were interpreted, but also seemed to function as an anchor that enabled students to thrive. Levels of spirituality had the second largest direct effect on thriving of any variable in the path model; only a sense of community contributed more to the variation in thriving levels.”[51]

Equity-Mindedness in Institutional Policies and Practices

The American Association for Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has done significant work to build capacity amongst faculty and administrators at liberal arts colleges around student access and success. AAC&U recommends that colleges and universities adopt the principle of “equity-mindedness.” Equity-mindedness involves targeting educational institutions and systems, not the students these institutions and systems have been failing. Equity-mindedness requires being aware of the inequities that exist through a continual process of learning, disaggregating data, and questioning policies and practices. However, equity-mindedness goes beyond simply being aware of inequities to “being deliberately conscious, in action and in policy, of the sociohistorical contexts for education attainment, and reframing inequities in terms of the institutional practices that perpetuate patterns of stratification rather than assuming that those patterns are the result of deficits in the abilities or aspirations of racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups.”[52] Equity-mindedness focuses on creating policies and practices designed to respond to differences in the contexts of students’ learning rather than simply treating all students the same.[53] AAC&U recommends a few practices to institutions to foster equity for first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color including:

  1. Know who your students are and will be.
  2. Have frank, hard dialogues about the climate for underserved students with a goal of effecting a paradigm shift in language and actions.
  3. Invest in culturally competent practices that lead to success of underserved students –and all students.
  4. Set and monitor equity-minded goals – and allocate resources to achieve them.
  5. Develop and actively pursue a clear vision and goals for achieving the high-quality learning necessary for careers and citizenship, and therefore essential for a bachelor’s degree.
  6. Expect and prepare all students to produce culminating or Signature Work at the associate (or sophomore) and baccalaureate levels to show their achievement of Essential Learning Outcomes, and monitor data to ensure equitable participation and achievement among underserved students.
  7. Provide support to help students develop guided plans to achieve Essential Learning Outcomes, prepare for and complete Signature Work, and connect college with careers.
  8. Identify high-impact practices (HIPs) best suited to your institution’s students and its quality framework of Essential Learning Outcomes, and work proactively to ensure equitable student participation in HIPs.
  9. Ensure that Essential Learning Outcomes are addressed and high-impact practices are incorporated across all programs, including general education, the majors, digital learning platforms, and cocurricular/community-based programs
  10. Make student achievement – including underserved student achievement – visible and valued.[54]


Our unique Catholic and Dominican identity invites us to work collectively as faculty, staff, and administrators to provide our increasingly diverse student population with equitable access to a rigorous, formational educational experience within and beyond the classroom – one that endeavors to shepherd students in the art of holding faith and reason together while preparing them for lives of meaning and purpose. Diversity is integral to our collective pursuit of truth and virtue as students encounter peers from various backgrounds but also as they deepen their ability to engage, dialogue, problem-solve, and collaborate across differences. Our students face significant barriers and inequities in the pursuit of their education. While we cannot remedy all societal ills, we are called to faithfully serve one another and to address inequities within our own college community. Doing so will require grappling with the blessing of an increasingly diverse campus and, along with that, the host of challenges now facing us and our students. Additionally, it will require an introspective look at our policies, practices, and pedagogies to ensure that we are meeting the challenges and removing the barriers that impede student success. Lastly, it will require that we build our own capacity to ensure that we are equipped to educate our students – within and beyond the classroom – for faithful citizenship in the world they will inherit from us.


[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 353.

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 814.

[3] St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogues, I,7, as cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 1937.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 1957.

[5] Gaudium et Spes, 29 §3.


[7] Ben Gose. “As Standards Change, Disability Offices Race to Keep Up,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[8] Robin Wilson. “Epidemic of Anguish,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2015.

[9] Lawrence Biemiller. “College Facilities Evolve from Accommodation to Inclusivity,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[10] Ben Gose. “How One College Helps Students with Learning Disabilities Find their Way,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[11] Katherine Mangan. “The Challenge of the First Generation Student,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[12] Katherine Mangan. “The Challenge of the First Generation Student,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[13] American Association of Colleges and Universities. Step Up and Lead for Equity: What Higher Education Can Do to Reverse Our Deepening Divides, 2015, 15.

[14] Kelly Field. “Safety Net,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[15] Elizabeth Lee. “Elite Colleges and the Language of Class,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[16] Elizabeth Lee. “Elite Colleges and the Language of Class,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[17] Eric Johnson. “Micro-barriers Loom Large for First-Generation Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[18] Jeffrey J Selingo. The Future of Enrollment: Where College’s Will Find their Next Students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017, 14.

[19] Sarah Brown. “Mizzou’s Freshman Enrollment Has Dropped by 35% in 2 Years. Here’s What’s Going On.,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[20] Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Office of the Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Key Data Highlights Focusing on Race and Ethnicity and Promising Practices, 2016, 10-18.

[21] American Association of Colleges and Universities. America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative of Equity in Higher Education, 2015, 16.

[22] American Association of Colleges and Universities. America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative of Equity in Higher Education, 2015, 25.

[23] American Association of Colleges and Universities. America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative of Equity in Higher Education, 2015, 19.


[25] Sarah Brown. “Are Colleges’ Diversity Efforts Putting Students into Silos,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[26] Nicholas Kristoff. “The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus,” New York Times, 2016.

[27] Mark Lilla. “Taking the Right Seriously,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2009.

[28] Nicholas Kristoff. “The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus,” New York Times, 2016.

[29] Jonathan Haidt. “Intimidation is the New Normal,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[30] Ben Gose. “As Standards Change, Disability Offices Race to Keep Up,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[31] Lawrence Biemiller. “College Facilities Evolve from Accommodation to Inclusivity,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[32] Ben Gose. “How One College Helps Students with Learning Disabilities Find their Way,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[33] Kelly Field. “Safety Net,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[34] Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez. “‘I Fit in Neither Place,’ How to Help First Generation College Students Succeed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[35] Eric Johnson. “Micro-barriers Loom Large for First-Generation Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[36] Joseph Sanacore and Anthony Palumbo. “Let’s Help First Generation Students Succeed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[37] Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez. “‘I Fit in Neither Place,’ How to Help First Generation College Students Succeed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017.

[38] Sarah Brown. “Required for all New Students—Dialogue 101,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[39] Sarah Brown. “Are College’s Diversity Efforts Putting Students into Silos,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[40] Sarah Brown. “Are College’s Diversity Efforts Putting Students into Silos,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

[41] Patricia Gurin, Biren A. Nagda, and Ximena Zuniga. Dialogue Across Difference: Practice, Theory, and Research on InterGroup Dialogue (New York, NY: Russell Sage, 2013), 147-180.

[42] Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York, NY: Random House, 2013), 56-58.

[43] Mark Lilla. “Taking the Right Seriously,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2009.

[44] Allison Ash and Laurie Schreiner, “Pathways to Success for Students of Color in Christian Colleges: The Role of Institutional Integrity and Sense of Community,” Christian Higher Education, 15:1-2, 55.

[45] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 55.

[46] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 51.

[47] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 51.

[48] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 51.

[49] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 48.

[50] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 48.

[51] Ash and Schreiner, “Pathways to Success,” 49.

[52] American Association of Colleges and Universities. America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative of Equity in Higher Education, 2015, 29.

[53] American Association of Colleges and Universities. America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative of Equity in Higher Education, 2015, 27.

[54] American Association of Colleges and Universities. Step Up and Lead for Equity: What Higher Education Can Do to Reverse Our Deepening Divides, 2015, 24-26.