By Darla Martin Tucker

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

La Sierra topped the ‘Environment’ category for the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking 2021 released today. The category considers the diversity of the faculty and of the student body, numbers of international students and numbers of in-need students receiving financial aid through the federal Pell Grant. The Journal notes La Sierra’s undergraduate makeup as 48% Hispanic, 17% Asian, 12% white, and 7% Black, with 12.2% 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 institution also ranked first nationally for its environment in the WSJ/THE rankings for 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,” said President Joy Fehr. “Across our campus, we strive continually to listen and to act in supporting our students and furthering our understanding.

Most recently, and in light of the ongoing and important national focus on systemic racism, we have engaged a group of students in helping to strengthen our ongoing commitment to ensuring equity, particularly for our 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. 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, the Office of Advising and Career Success among others specifically focus on supporting students from diverse backgrounds.

Fehr further noted that 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 media conglomerate and their 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, numbers of published scholarly research papers; student engagement and interaction with teachers and students; and graduation rate, debt after graduation and academic reputation.

The Engagement category was based on a student survey which asked 12 core questions of panels of students from the various colleges and universities. La Sierra University scored at or above the national average in questions about opportunities for faculty interaction and collaborative learning, support of critical thinking, the challenge presented by their classes, and whether students felt inspired and motivated. In total, 170,000 students participated in the poll called THE U.S. Student Survey.

Other sources for the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking include public data from IPEDS, the College Scorecard and Federal Student Aid.

La Sierra University’s commitment to a diverse campus is further reflected in its second-place ranking for its diverse faculty by the Chronicle of Higher Education in a category for four-year private nonprofit institutions. The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles ranked in first place. The diversity index for colleges with the most racially and ethnically diverse faculty in Fall 2018 was published in August in the Chronicle’s Almanac 2020-2021.

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. The category rates universities for their capacity to help economically disadvantaged Pell Grant recipients graduate.

This article originally appeared as part of La Sierra News under the title “Wall Street Journal again ranks La Sierra No. 1 in nation for diversity.”