November 19, 2016

Adventist-owned Pacific Union College Tops Nation's Liberal Arts Schools in Ethnic Diversity

Pacific Union College has been named the most ethnically diverse National Liberal Arts College in the nation, according to the new annual rankings of the best colleges released by U.S. News & World Report. PUC, which is owned by the Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, previously ranked second and third in this category.

“Pacific Union College is honored to be recognized as the number one most diverse National Liberal Arts College in the entire country”

“Pacific Union College is honored to be recognized as the number one most diverse National Liberal Arts College in the entire country,” said Heather J. Knight, PUC president. “We believe that we have achieved this exemplary level of diversity because we are privileged to be part of a dynamic global church whose message is relevant and attractive to all 'kindred, tongues, and nations.' Furthermore, we highly prize our very special young people who are truly living out the vision of the Beloved Community as they study, worship, and play together. In this diverse setting, they are also learning the essential skills of intercultural competence and global understanding, which are so highly valued in the workplace today. Therefore, we fully expect our graduates to go forth as successful peacemakers and light in the world.”

The 2017 rankings are based upon information submitted by colleges for the 2015-2016 academic year. For the diversity category, the ranking calculates the proportion of minority students within the student body, omitting international students, and awards institutions a score ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 on the diversity index. The index measures the probability that any two randomly chosen students from a given school are of different races or ethnic groups. The closer a school is to 1.0, the more diverse the student body. PUC scored 0.76, with the largest minority population being Hispanic. In second place, according to the U.S.News rankings, was Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., with a score of 0.73.

According to Serhii Kalynovs’kyi, PUC’s director of institutional research, assessment and planning, PUC’s student body for the 2015-2016 academic year is 28 percent Hispanic/Latino, 26 percent Caucasian/non-Latino, 19 percent Asian, nine percent black or African-American, and two percent Pacific Islander, with the remaining 16 percent being multiracial or unknown.

The college views its ethnic diversity rating as a unique educational advantage for students, providing them with an environment where they can both live and learn together with students different from themselves, from a variety of cultural backgrounds, helping to prepare them to work in today’s global, multiethnic society.

In large part, the college’s diversity ranking is due to over 80 percent of the students at PUC being Seventh-day Adventist. A 2015 Pew Research Center study said the Adventist Church is the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the United States. On a diversity index scale of one to 10, Adventists scored a 9.1, with 37 percent Caucasian/non-Latino, 32 percent black or African American, 15 percent Hispanic/Latino, eight percent Asian, and eight percent another race or multiracial.

Historically, PUC has always been committed to diversity. In 1883, just one year after its founding, the college admitted Charles Kinney, a young black man who, for two years, studied on the Healdsburg campus at a time when such things were unknown. Kinney would go on to be the first ordained black minister within the denomination, and helped start five of the first six black Adventist churches in the United States.

  • With additional reporting by Adventist Review staff.