KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo reached new milestones in diversifying its student body for the spring 2021 semester.
The number of degree-seeking students of color hit a record at 454, up 14 percent from last year. This reflects an overall minority enrollment of 17 percent. Within this group, records were set by Hispanic/Latino students with an increase of 17 percent, African-American students up 6 percent, and Asian-Americans raised by 16 percent.
Increased programming, Campus Community Town Halls and the recent opening of the Multicultural Center are examples of the campus’s continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusiveness.
“It shows our efforts are having an impact, and the community is responding to our genuine desire to have a campus that is inclusive and welcoming to all,” said Tess Barker, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management. “The opening of the Multicultural Center shows our commitment to supporting diverse students by adding staff who can connect to their lived experiences, and provide mentoring support. It also creates a physical space on campus where students can connect with one another and find community and commonality.
“Finding connection with your peers is one of the key indicators that a student will persist and succeed in college,” she added.
Many students of color are first in their family to go to college. The center supports recruitment efforts, showing potential students and their families that IU Kokomo has resources to help them once the students are enrolled.
“We’re not just trying to recruit them here; we want to retain them and support them through to graduation,” Barker said.
When these students succeed, the community benefits, she noted, because they graduate and become the business owners, teachers, nurses, and leaders in north central Indiana and beyond.
“Being able to interact with students from a variety of experiences, with a variety of points of view, and who bring a variety of experiences to the classroom, enriches student learning across the board,” she said. “It prepares all of our students to engage in the rest of the world, and become global citizens.”