Spotlight on Community Colleges
Tackling Diversity & Inclusion
50 Colleges That Encourage Diversity, And Why More Should Follow

Meet the Experts

Sam Crandall, Ed.D. Read bio
Angela Davis, CDP, MBA Read bio

Written by

Catherine Leon Read bio

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, America is projected to be a minority majority country by 2045. Community colleges are recognizing the need to focus on multiculturalism and inclusion as they cater to an already diverse student population and prepare workers for a global marketplace. Diversity and inclusion are hot topics, and for good reason: Students achieve more at schools where they can connect with people from different races, religions and sexual orientations, in and out of the classroom. Benefits to students include improved critical thinking skills, awareness of social problems, academic engagement and college satisfaction, to name a few. This guide highlights the 50 most diverse and inclusive community colleges, and dives into why it matters.

How Diverse Are Community College Students?

  • Women make up 56% of the community college population.
  • 36% of community college students are the first generation in their families to pursue higher education.
  • 12% of community college students have a disability.
  • More than 50% of community college students are non-white minorities.
  • The average age of two-year college students is 28.
  • 4% of two-year college students are military veterans.
  • 17% are single parents.

50 Most Diverse and Inclusive Community Colleges

Many two-year colleges already boast diverse student populations, but some schools are going further, proudly cultivating inclusive and equitable campus cultures in various ways. These innovative colleges not only integrate equity and diversity into their overall missions and goals, they also “walk the talk”. They have robust diversity departments with full-time staff who can address equality in terms of gender, sexuality, race, nationality and religion. They have active diversity committees or on-campus clubs. They focus on student retention and offer academic support services to promote success for students of all backgrounds.

To make things easy, we’ve created a quick way to browse some of these dedicated two-year schools. Take a look at the spotlight below to see who’s leading the way in diversity and inclusion in 2018.


To be eligible, community colleges must have:

  • Less than 70% of student enrollment from any one race/ethnicity
  • At least 10 minority staff members
  • At least 3 minority, multicultural, LGBTQ or religion clubs
  • A campus Diversity Office, Diversity Council or Multicultural Center
  • Diversity included as part of school's Mission, Vision or Strategic Plan
  • Less than 50% of students enrolled exclusively in distance education
rank university title diversity award expand university description
1 College of DuPage Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 18

College of DuPage functions as the economic and education change agent for the diverse community it serves. Located 25 miles west of Chicago, the college serves over 28,000 students. COD exudes diversity and multiculturalism, and its center for student diversity and inclusion firmly believes in never ceasing to attract, include, and serve its diverse student populations. The campus fosters a sense of belonging for all students through its provision of clubs and organizations that include the African American Student Alliance, the Latino Awareness Alliance and the Veterans Association to name a few. The center also provides financial aid support for its underrepresented student populations and hosts a talk show entitled Positive Voices that provides students an outlet to discuss topics that foster social understanding, unity and cultural awareness.

2 Bunker Hill Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 12

Bunker Hill Community College is revered as one of the most diverse institutions in Massachusetts, with 61 percent of its student body being students of color. BHCC is considered a multi-campus community college, consisting of five campus locations scattered throughout the Greater Boston area. The multi-campus community spreads its diversity efforts beyond race as it is also holds the title of being the most affordable community college. Affordability helps to provide students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds with access to higher education opportunities. The college serves approximately 13,000 students and provides over 100 degree and certificate programs. The college is sensitive to the fact that the majority of their students work part-time or full-time and continues to ensure that these populations are served by providing morning, afternoon, evening, late-evening, weekend and online courses. The campus' Office of Diversity and Inclusion leads its campus in continually welcoming diversity by sponsoring high-profile speakers to come and discuss topics related to social justice, multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion.

3 Normandale Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 11

Located in Bloomington Minnesota, Normandale Community College is a two-year community college that serves a diverse population of approximately 10,000 students. The college is one of the most affordable colleges in the state as its per-credit cost is about 2.5 times less than Minnesota-Twin Cities university, and 6 times less than the private higher education institutions within the state. The college offers over 70 degree and certificate programs that prepares students for transfer to a 4 year institution or apply their knowledge out in the workforce upon completion of their studies. The college's diversity center fosters inclusive learning opportunities through promotion of awareness, understanding and acceptance across the various diverse groups within the Normandale community.

4 Grossmont College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 11

Grossmont College rests in the Fletcher Hills community of El Cajon, a city near San Diego, California. Grossmont “changes lives through education” by being a campus that caters to the needs of its diverse students. The college's diversity initiatives focus on fostering a climate that values and accommodates commonalities and differences. These initiatives include the development of various committees such as the college's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and its World Arts and Culture committee. Approximately 38 percent of its students are 25 years of age or older and more than half of its student population is attending school part-time, which showcases how Grossmont stays true to its values of service and access for non-traditional students. Additionally, Grossmont's inclusivity efforts reach even further through its Safe Zone training. The Safe Zone program helps the institution foster a welcoming environment for its LGBTQ student population.

5 SUNY Westchester Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 11

Westchester Community College serves approximately 24,000 full-time, part-time and continuing students, providing its diverse population with over 80 degree and certificate programs. The college is Westchester County's largest educational institution, with a mission that provides “accessible, high quality and affordable education to meet the needs of its diverse community.” Westchester believes that diversity is not a concept, but a reality, and the school's record attributes to this reality. In 2009, Westchester was honored to be awarded the Northeast Regional Equity Award, which put the college in the running for the prestigious Charles Kennedy Equity award. The college has numerous diversity and inclusivity initiatives, with one initiative being the college's Bridges program, a program that supports underrepresented students access and complete STEM-based majors.

6 Tulsa Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 10

Tulsa Community College's mission encourages students to bring their passion, initiative and ambition to their educational careers at the college. In return, TCC provides its students with diverse, innovative and affordable educational opportunities. As the largest community college in Oklahoma, TCC educates more than 27,000 students each year. The college is a multi-campus community consisting of four state-of-the art facilities for students to explore over 100 degree and certificate options. The college's office of Diversity and Inclusion leads the college in continually developing and sustaining an educational environment that welcomes and promotes inclusivity. These efforts include the provision of retention specialists. These specialists provide academic and personal support for any students who traditionally have more barriers to overcome to reach their goals, such as first-generation college students, students from low-income families and students of color. The college also provides its prospective students that identify as LGBTQ with a program called OUT. OUT for TCC invites prospective high school students to attend TCC workshops that focus on instilling the importance of higher learning to students.

7 Columbus State Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 9

Columbus State Community College is a multi-campus community that provides its students with six regional learning centers and two campuses in an effort to bring learning opportunities close to work or home. The college truly values its diverse student population and provides complete support services to guide all of their students towards reaching their academic goals. The college is proud to be one of the most racially and ethnically diverse institutions in the region. Its student body represents 130 countries with the majority of their students attending the college part-time. The college recognizes that its students tend to have busy schedules and it supports these schedules by providing classes during the lunch hour, during evening hours and on the weekends. Its Global Diversity and Inclusion Center values diversity and creates better learning environments through its services and programs. One of the many program offered is Share Stories, an event and exhibit that highlights the higher education experiences of DACA students. Other diversity resources include its Male Access Network initiative, the Women's Connection and engaging in intercultural exchanges through the colleges International Student Forum. CSCC is the only college in Central Ohio that follows an open-admissions policy and provides students affordable quality education with 76 percent of its students taking on zero student loan debt.

8 Cuyahoga Community College District Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 9

Cuyahoga Community College, commonly known as Tri-C, opened its doors in 1963 as Ohio's first community college. The college provides its students with over 190 degree and certificate programs at an affordable cost. The college serves approximately 55,000 credit and non-credit students annually. Its educational platforms are diverse as it includes in-person courses, online courses, independent learning opportunities, and classes via television. The multi-campus community has campus sites in Parma, Highland Hills, Westlake and downtown Cleveland. Tri-C stays true its mission of improving “the overall quality of life in a multicultural community” through the support of its Diversity and Inclusion office. The college prides itself on having a “true mosaic of people” that help to enrich the college's community and society overall. Tri-C has been recognized for its diversity efforts by a number of organizations that include the Commission on Economic Inclusion and NorthCoast 99.

9 Oakton Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 9

Oakton Community College in Cook County, Illinois has two campus sites, with its main campus in Des Plaines and the other in Skokie. The college promotes student engagement with over 50 on-campus clubs. OCC provides Safe Zone and Ally trainings for students and faculty interested in better understanding the experiences and concerns of those that identify as LGBTQ+ while also learning about how to become effective allies for this community. The college's Office of Access, Equity, and Diversity is charged with fostering student retention and success by creating an open and accepting climate for its community. Their diversity programs include the college's Access and Disability Resource Center, its ¡ANDALE! initiative which supports the retention and success of the college's Latinx students, and the Anti-Racism team,which brings together faculty, staff and administrators who are committed to institutional transformation. In 2017, the college's ¡ANDALE! program coordinator was the recipient of Oakton's Living Diversity Award, an award that embodies the notion of “creating a college environment of equity, inclusion, care, compassion and respect for people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.”

10 Raritan Valley Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 9

Raritan Valley Community College has been honored, for the fourth time since 2015, with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. RVCC commits itself to diversity and believes that diversity enriches the college's intellectual environment for its students, faculty, and staff. RVCC's Office of Multicultural Affairs provides numerous programs and opportunities that aid its community with increasing access and equity to historically underrepresented groups. The RVCC community shows its support for diversity and equity as over 5,000 students, faculty, and staff participate in the college's diversity programs each year. RVCC provides students with workforce ready-based A.A.S. degrees along with A.A., A.S. and A.F.A transfer-based degrees. For those interested in transferring, the college offers degree completion programs with several universities, including the State University of New Jersey and Rutgers.

11 Holyoke Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 8

Holyoke Community College was founded in 1946 as Massachusetts' first community college. The college has more that 100 associate and certificate programs along with non-credit and continuing education program options. The college's main campus is located in Holyoke, but the college also has a few satellite locations through Pioneer Valley. The college proudly supports and encourages diversity in its community. The Council for Community, Diversity, and Inclusion at HCC meets regularly to assess the campus climate through an inclusive, diverse and culturally-aware lens and offers the college's administration with recommendations for policy change, activities and actions related to the council's mission.

12 Butte College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 8

Butte College is located in 90 miles north of Sacramento, California, near the city of Chico. At Butte, eligible first-time, full-time students can enjoy their first two semesters free from tuition and fees. The college considers itself a student-centered learning institution, serving 13,000 students each semester in over 150 academic programs. Butte's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office helps to lead the college in growing an inclusive campus community while providing students with opportunities to think critically and globally. Butte's Diversity Days events represent one of many of the college's diversity and inclusion efforts. Diversity Days last for four days, with the goal of preparing and hosting various workshops and activities focused on meeting the college's strategic initiative of enhancing its culture of inclusiveness.

13 Orange Coast College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 8

Orange Coast College offers over 135 academic and career programs and serves about 25,000 students annually in Southern California. Many California institutions, including OCC, support students from all backgrounds, regardless of immigration status. California law AB 540 provides financial aid opportunities, resident tuition, and other rights and resources to undocumented students that are afforded to their peers.

14 North Hennepin Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 7

North Hennepin Community College is one of the largest and most diverse colleges in Minnesota, serving about 10,000 students annually. The student population alone provides a good representation of the college's diversity: According to NHCC's 2017 factbook, approximately 46 percent of its students are of color, 62 percent come from underrepresented populations, 23 percent are first-generation college students and 71 percent are part-time students. NHCC's Diversity and Equity Center leads in celebrating the college's diversity through the sponsorship and creation of various resources on campus. Some of the center's diversity initiatives include Women on Wednesdays (WOW), which is a group of women of color that discuss and explore ways to access leadership opportunities within the community. Another initiative is the center's Diversity Pancakes event, a free event for students with a goal of helping students become more familiar with the center's mission. NHCC offers over 60 transfer and career programs along with 13 baccalaureate degree programs through the college's collaboration with four-year institutions.

15 Tarrant County College District Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 7

Tarrant County College educates over 98,000 students annually at its six campus locations in Fort Worth and other cities in the Tarrant County area. Over 50 percent of TCC's students are of color and over the age of 21. TCC's Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion encourages students to get involved and engage in equitable dialogue and practices that foster a diverse and inclusive college environment. The college's Safe Space program provides students, faculty and staff with learning opportunities for building a safe and welcoming environment for its LGBTQ+ community. TCC is also designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The Department of Education offers grants to HSI's that would not otherwise be afforded to non-HSI colleges. These grants can support numerous educational opportunities for students of all ethnicities at the college.

16 Rock Valley College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 6

17 Middlesex Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 6

Middlesex Community College is a multi-campus community and is one of the largest community colleges in Massachusetts. The college serves approximately 12,000 students annually and provides is diverse student body with over 70 transfer and career/technical educational programs. The college recognizes the need to offer accessible information and resources for its campus community, which is why the college has created a virtual LGBTQ center. This virtual resource provides a safe space for the college's LGBTQ+ community. In addition to this virtual space, the college offers physical safe spaces and LGBTQ+ allies in both of its campus locations. The college's International and Multicultural Office believes in building a climate that embraces cross-cultural awareness and a deeper understanding of a diverse society. The office hosts a diversity summit which promotes honest, respectful and open dialogue regarding the college's cultural climate while providing recommendations on how to cultivate an inclusive campus community.

18 Moraine Valley Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 6

Moraine Valley Community College recognizes the needs of an ever-changing, global society and works to ensure that its students are prepared to tackle these changes. MVCC recognizes the importance of diversity and believes that its actions towards embracing inclusivity is one of the primary reasons it is considered a premier institution of higher learning. The college has been recognized for its diversity efforts as it was awarded the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Other inclusion resources at MVCC include Safe Zone trainings to create a welcoming environment for its LGBTQ+ community and gender neutral restrooms in almost every building on its main campus and extension centers in Blue Island and Tinley Park. MVCC serves more than 34,000 students with over 140 credit and non-credit programs.

19 Mesa Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 6

Mesa Community College's student population is filled with diversity: over 50 percent are students of color, more than 400 international students were enrolled in 2017, and the average age of students is 25. MCC embeds a multiculturalism component in its student services programming. The Multicultural Affairs office provides services such as financial aid assistance, cultural workshops, student forums and advisement so that students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds get the support that they need. MCC is also designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. This designation allows the college to receive federal funds that can be used to support students from all ethnic backgrounds. The college also caters to its distance learners as they have over 500 online courses with over 30 degree and certificate programs that can be completed fully online.

20 Central Piedmont Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 6

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) is the largest community college on the East Coast. CPCC consists of its main campus, six satellite campuses and a comprehensive virtual campus. Central Piedmont's Office of Institutional Equity is committed to developing equal opportunity to all of its students regardless of their backgrounds. One example of this commitment is the development of its Digital Learning Accessibility Committee. The committee was formed to ensure that the college's content is fully accessible for students living with a disability. The college also has a Minority Male Mentoring program (3MP) which assigns its participants with underrepresented male student mentors to inspire and motivate their mentees to achieve academically and professionally.

21 Milwaukee Area Technical College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 6

Milwaukee Area Technical College is a vocational-technical institution in Wisconsin. MTCC fosters diversity through the leadership of its Multicultural Student Services department. Its resources include supporting its multicultural students in the admissions, registration, class scheduling and financial aid processes. The department also consists of a Mentor program called MentorNet, an e-mentoring network for diversity in engineering and science. The program pairs female and minority students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, business and computer science with professionals in these respective fields.

22 Oakland Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

23 Alamance Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

24 College of Marin Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

25 College of the Mainland Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

26 Manchester Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

27 Guilford Technical Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

28 Chemeketa Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

29 Minneapolis Community and Technical College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

30 Barstow Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

31 Estrella Mountain Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

32 Housatonic Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

33 Sacramento City College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

34 City Colleges of Chicago-Harry S Truman College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 5

35 South Puget Sound Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

36 Paradise Valley Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

37 North Shore Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

38 South Plains College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

39 Hillsborough Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

40 Durham Technical Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

41 Mt San Jacinto Community College District Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 4

42 Pikes Peak Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

43 Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

44 Portland Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

45 College of Southern Maryland Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

46 Massasoit Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

47 Northeast Texas Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

48 Pima Community College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

49 Saint Paul College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3

50 San Jose City College Minority, Religion and LGBTQ Student Clubs 3


Advice from the Experts: How to Create a Diverse Community College

Sam Crandall, Ed.D. - Phoenix College

Q: What makes you passionate about diversity and inclusion on the community college campus?

A: I’m so passionate about diversity and inclusion because I’m passionate about student success. Research shows that we lose students in the first semester due to a lack of connection with three points: [other] students, faculty and staff members. Students need to feel like the campus environment is inclusive.

“Community college is open admission, so we see higher numbers of at-risk and underrepresented groups. A lot of students may not feel like they are college material already and may feel invisible.”

So, it’s even more vital that we ensure the right message is communicated: that they do belong and that we are going to help them achieve their goals.

Q: What challenges have you encountered while trying to implement diversity and inclusion programs?

A: I worked at a college in the Midwest where I would get a lack of buy-in because the area wasn’t diverse enough and there was a very small percentage of non-white students. Faculty didn’t see a need for diversity training. Now at my current college in Arizona, there is a much different demographic than the Midwest. There is a lot more visible diversity. However, now faculty don’t see a need for diversity training because the college is already so diverse!

“I think there can be a lot of confusion with academic terminology and we can get stuck with a certain word or definition, but diversity is everywhere and extends to every aspect of our identity, not just race.”

Q: What have been some of the most impactful diversity and inclusion programs you’ve seen?

A: I do think that experiential learning has the greatest potential for shifting the campus climate and there a lot of examples of successful experiential projects. Theater of the Oppressed is an interactive theater experience designed for social justice, developed by Augusto Boal in the 1970s. A scenario is played out and the content revolves around social justice issues. The fun part is that it’s played again but you can replace an actor with someone from the audience. There is a high improvisational component and it offers a safe environment to explore social justice issues.

There is also a program from Denmark called the Human Library. Instead of checking out a physical book, you check out a “human book” who shares their own experiences with stereotypes and prejudices. The readers talking with the book have the ability to ask questions in a safe space. For example, maybe you’ve heard of the transgender bathroom issues. You can check out the human book and explore those issue a little better from someone who has personal experience with it. One of the things I enjoy the most about this is that it brings faculty, staff, students and community members together to have a dialogue.

Another experiential learning activity is a teaching strategy known as fishbowl discussions. It’s fairly similar to a panel but it’s set up like a fishbowl. The panel sits in the middle, having a more intimate dialogue, while the audience sits in concentric circles around them, listening, reflecting and asking questions. You can really feel the emotion in the dialogue. This program can include participants representing multiple cultures and backgrounds – but you can have ones focusing on just one historically underrepresented group. 

Angela Davis, CDP, MBA - Durham Technical Community College

Q: What makes you passionate about diversity and inclusion on the community college campus?

A: Much like William Rainey Harper, the father of the community college, I too believe that all people should have access to education and employment without barriers. I am a first-generation college student in my family, and for me that meant more opportunities. So, my desire to serve as a change-agent is really a desire to serve others and to identify ways to remove barriers to access for students.

Q: What challenges have you encountered while trying to implement diversity and inclusion programs?

A: I think that one of the first challenges is that a Chief Diversity Officer, or in my case a Special Assistant for Equity and Inclusion, is something that is new in the community college system. In North Carolina, we are the third largest community college system in the U.S. with 58 community colleges, yet Durham Tech is only one of three in our system to have a role like mine.

Another challenge is helping people understand the differences between equity, diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity is about the number of minority students. Inclusion is about initiatives and having a diverse candidate pool. Equity is systemic change, addressing policies, practices and procedures that create barriers for student success. Equity is where we are trying to move.”

Q: What have been some of the most impactful diversity and inclusion programs at your college?

A: We have a phenomenal Center for the Global Learner that was established in 2009. The center fosters intercultural understanding and develops engaged global citizens. It supports the development of workforce-ready initiatives in a multinational environment and provides opportunities for our international students to enroll in our programs.

Durham Tech along with our county and city officials have also partnered with the Racial Equity Institute out of Greensborough to ensure all employees receive racial equity training, including our senior leadership. Durham Tech also partners with Achieving the Dream, a national organization that has been instrumental in providing funding for various initiatives that promote the advancement of student success. We often use a popular game that they developed called the Finish-Line, which allows college employees to walk in the shoes of 10 students, particularly low-income students and students of color, to experience the challenges that they face.

7 Tips for Fostering Diversity in Community College

Schools that stand out have invested time, money and energy into fostering diversity and inclusion in on their on- and off-campus communities. They examine the demographics of their student, faculty and staff populations and develop plans to encourage diversity. At the same time, these schools cultivate cultures of inclusivity through innovative programs, committees, clubs and new staff positions like Chief Diversity Officer. Explore these tips to turn the goal of diversity into a reality in the community college environment.

A diversity audit is often the first step in creating a more diverse college campus. Through the audit, schools take a close look at the demographics of their faculty, administrators and students, as well as the composition of its leadership committees.

Real-life example:

Sinclair Community College in Ohio embarked on a diversity audit in the hopes to clearly measure how well the college is promoting diversity in everything from recruiting faculty members and administrators to student supports and community relations.

A diversity committee can be composed of faculty, administrators and students. This committee can conduct surveys, spearhead diversity events, develop school-wide plans, collect and circulate best practices, review policies and procedures and make recommendations when needed.

A Chief Diversity Officer on a college campus can indicate a serious commitment to increased faculty and student inclusion efforts. These administrator roles can hold departments on campus accountable for their inclusivity, guiding hiring and admissions practices when necessary.

Real-life example:

While CDOs are more common at four-year colleges, many community colleges are just starting to make the investment. Minneapolis Community and Technical College is one of those. Dr. Jay Williams works at MCTC to ensure equity, inclusion and diversity are an integral part of the school’s practices, procedures, policies and planning.

Student-led clubs are an excellent way to make diversity and inclusion a visible part of the campus culture. They can work to promote the needs of a wide variety of underrepresented groups that span race, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation and more.

A diversity center is a located on-campus with set hours of operation, like a drop-in center, and provides an all-inclusive space for students seeking information, understanding and support. A mixture of dedicated students and full-time staff can function as leaders and advocates, while multicultural events and presentations are open to the entire campus community.

Real-life example:

Normandale Community College operates a Diversity Center to foster a sense of belonging and promote dialogue. The Center is open Monday through Friday and everyone is welcome to visit.

Student support services for underrepresented groups help to ensure that students feel welcomed, supported and heard. While a school’s number of minority students may increase, the need to retain those students and ensure their academic success is critical to maintaining a truly inclusive campus community.

Experiential learning helps transform the way people act, think and feel. Students actively participate in experiences and then reflect on them.

Real-life example:

Phoenix College hosts fishbowl discussions where a panel sits in the middle while the audience sits in concentric circles around them, listening, reflecting and asking questions.

Why Should Community Colleges Focus on Diversity?

Community colleges attract more underrepresented and low-income students compared to four-year colleges. Many of these students come to school facing obstacles and challenges that can put their academic success at risk. Programs that foster a sense of belonging and community, and that provide specialized support, help these students achieve their academic goals.

Advances in technology and communication have led to rapid globalization in the marketplace. The ability to be open-minded about different lifestyles and perspectives is key to equipping students with the skills to thrive in a global work environment. Awareness of, and respect for, diversity improves collaboration between colleagues and business partners.

Various studies, including one by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, showed that students who engaged with people from diverse backgrounds demonstrated increased active thinking, intellectual and academic engagement and motivation.

A national study that involved 25,000 students revealed that focusing on diversity and providing students with the opportunity to explore racial and multicultural issues increased satisfaction in most areas of the college experience.

A Duke University study noted that diverse interactions both in and out of the classroom, including participation in cultural clubs or organizations, helped increase cultural awareness, improved tolerance of others and heightened care and concern over international issues.

Students who are given the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds and engage in honest dialogue about related social justice issues demonstrate improved interpersonal skills and communication skills, both on campus and beyond.

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