Measuring Diversity at a Historically Black College of Dentistry

Measuring Diversity at a Historically Black College of Dentistry

Garnett Lee Henley (Howard University, USA), Wanda Lawrence (Winston Salem State University, USA), Candace Mitchell (Howard University, USA), Donna Henley-Jackson (UCLA, USA & Baylor University, USA) and Tawana Feimster (Howard University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-857-6.ch013


There are several excellent indices available to quantify diversity within a student body. Richness and evenness can be studied using Simpson’s Index with its associated Reciprocal Index, and with Shannon-Weiner’s Index “H” and Index “E”. Lieberson provides the means to measure isolation and interaction, and Dissimilarity works well to identify segregated communities. Results using these indices show that the Historically Black College of Dentistry is a culturally vibrant and diverse academic and social environment. White students at the Historically Black College of Dentistry are more likely to enjoy interaction with other Whites than will Historically Black and Hispanic students at all other dental schools, except at the other Medical College, the only other HBCU with a dental school. Overall, there was no statistical diversity difference between the Historically Black College of Dentistry and all other dental schools over the 10 year study period. Statistically significant correlations between each index provided a framework for using each index in prediction modeling. Recent methods to manage multi-collinearity, such as extracting unstandardized residuals to use as adjusted coefficients add promise that all indices can be used in future diversity studies.
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Setting The Stage

There is a perception among many that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are culturally and racially monolithic. Although it is true that the majority of students at HBCUs are indeed African American, there is also great ethnic diversity at many of these institutions. The dilemma for the HBCU is to provide a well-rounded educational experience that prepares its graduates for global leadership, while remaining true to the purpose for which the university was established. The need to have far-reaching discussion and broad socialization as part of the university environment is integral to the development of the intellectual and ethical character of all graduates. Most HBCUs are probably more diverse than one might think. What was needed were the tools to make the assessment. The momentum for The Historically Black College of Dentistry to determine its diversity status occurred when a novel funding stream presented with the condition that the College become more diverse to receive the money. The Directorate of Assessments at The Historically Black College of Dentistry sought to first characterize the college’s level of student body diversity and then to recommend minimal target levels comparable to those at peer majority institutions.

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