September 27, 2020

Once More, La Sierra Is No. 1 for Diversity in Wall Street Journal Ranking

Darla Martin Tucker, La Sierra University, and Adventist Review

For the third time in five years, La Sierra University is ranked No. 1 in the United States for its diverse environment by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (WSJ/THE) annual college ranking.

La Sierra topped the “Environment” category for the WSJ/THE College Ranking 2021 released September 17, 2020. The category considers the diversity of the faculty and the student body, the number of international students, and the number of in-need students receiving financial aid through the federal Pell Grant. The Journal notes La Sierra’s undergraduate makeup as 48 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian, 12 percent White, and 7 percent Black, with 12.2 percent of students from other countries. About half receive Pell Grant aid.

In the Environment category, the University of California, Irvine tied for second with California State University, Northridge. La Sierra’s placement in the 2021 ranking is the third time since 2017 that it has landed at the top of the list nationally for its diverse environment, the other years being 2017 and 2018. It ranked second in the nation for the same category in both the 2019 and 2020 rankings.

“Our university’s No. 1 national ranking for its diverse and inclusive environment is great news for our campus. We are privileged to daily enjoy and learn from our interaction with people from all walks of life, and our collective and individual lives are richer for it,” La Sierra president Joy Fehr said. “Across our campus, we strive continually to listen and to act in supporting our students and furthering our understanding.”

Fehr explained that most recently, and in light of the ongoing and important national focus on systemic racism, the school has engaged a group of students to strengthen its ongoing commitment to ensuring equity, particularly for its Black students.

“We have implemented a quarterly masterclass on diversity, provided diversity-themed presentations and workshops for our faculty colloquium this fall, and offer ongoing education and insights through the Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion,” Fehr said. “These are just a sampling of the myriad ways our university is invested in both celebrating our diversity and growing as an institution and as individuals.”

University programs such as the Title V–supported Summer Bridge, AVID for Higher Education, and the Office of Advising and Career Success, among others, specifically focus on supporting students from diverse backgrounds.

Fehr noted that the university is also proud of its work in supporting the significant number of students who enroll in pre-health majors with the intention of transferring to medical school or other training after four or six quarters, a situation that impacts the university’s overall graduation rates. “We’re very successful also in helping this population of our student body pursue their chosen career pathways and achieve their dreams,” she said.

Environment is one of four categories in which 797 colleges and universities around the country were ranked for the 2021 guide by the WSJ media conglomerate and its partner organization, London-based Times Higher Education. The ranking also rated schools for Resources, Engagement and Outcomes, which respectively apply scores for such qualities as amount spent on teaching per student; ratio of students to faculty; number of published scholarly research papers; student engagement and interaction with teachers and students; graduation rate; debt after graduation; and academic reputation.

In other related college ranking news, La Sierra University placed 17th for social mobility among 127 western regional universities in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2021 rankings. The category rates universities for their capacity to help economically disadvantaged Pell Grant recipients to graduate.

The original version of this story was posted on the La Sierra University news site.