As We See It

One of the most diverse campuses in the country, UNLV aims to reflect its community

While UNLV is usually absent from U.S. News‘s academic rankings, it made the publication’s Top 10 for campus ethnic diversity.
Photo: Steve Marcus

If you try to reduce UNLV to its numbers, the picture that emerges is a mosaic of struggle and success. U.S. News & World Report does not publish UNLV’s rank among other national universities, and high school guidance counselors list it at No. 212 among institutions they think offer the best undergraduate education. But when it comes to campus diversity, UNLV is ranked among the nation’s top 10.

U.S. News’ Campus Ethnic Diversity survey, released in September, grades colleges from 0 to 1.0, with more diverse schools receiving higher marks. With a score of .70, UNLV is listed eighth, tied with eight other schools, including University of California, Riverside and University of Illinois, Chicago.

UNLV VP of diversity initiatives and government relations Luis Valera says that the ranking is the result of a concerted effort on the part of the school. As an urban university, he says, one of UNLV’s highest priorities is to produce an educated community that reflects what the larger Southern Nevada population looks like.

Fall 2011 data on the undergraduate student body shows 42.8 percent of students are white. Hispanics make up the largest minority group with 19 percent, followed by Asians at 16.6 percent and black/African Americans at 7.9 percent. By comparison, Clark County’s 2011 census data shows 47.4 percent of the local community is white, 29.7 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black and 9.1 percent Asian.

“When you look at the census numbers, we have a little bit of a ways to go,” Valera says. He adds that campus diversity is more than an admissions numbers game. “It doesn’t make any difference to get students in the door if we don’t keep them and graduate them.”

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