About Diversity

Definition of Diversity

Diversity is an inclusive community of people with varied human characteristics, ideas, and world-views and whose interactions both benefit and challenge each other to grow while making the community better.

Such a community will:

  • enhance access, attract and retain a diverse population and promote equity and equal opportunity.
  • encourage interaction among diverse people to enrich the educational experience, promote personal growth and enhance the community.
  • foster mutual respect, value differences and promote cross cultural understanding.
  • prepare leaders to live and work in a competitive global community.

By definition, NC State reflects diversity because it comprises a community of individuals from varied backgrounds and demographic categories; it encourages, accepts, and values a diversity of people and ideas; it seeks to promote an environment where equity, respect and understanding represent the norm in the campus climate and; it seeks to prepare entrepreneurs who are effective citizens of a global community. We will know that we have achieved authentic diversity when all four of these objectives are fully realized.

Benefits of Diversity

In an opinion by Justice Sandra O’Connor (joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer), the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly adopted Justice Powell’s view from Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), finding that “student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admissions.”

The Court found that the educational benefits of diversity “are not theoretical but real,” and had been substantiated by the University of Michigan and its amice in supporting briefs.  Those benefits included “cross-racial understanding” and the breaking down of racial stereotypes.  The Supreme Court cited social science research showing that “student body diversity promotes learning outcomes,..better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and better prepares them as professionals.”  It acknowledged that “major American businesses have made clear that the skills needed in today’s increasingly global marketplace can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints,” and that high -ranking former military leaders have asserted that “a highly qualified, racially divers officer corps,” is essential to national security.  The Court concluded that “[e] effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized.”  Jonathan R. Alger, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

History of Diversity at NC State

NC State University was founded as an all white, all male institution in 1887 and it remained so until it was forced by the Civil Rights Movement, the courts, and other social events to admit non-white students.  In 1953, NC State admitted its first African American graduate student and it was not until 1956 that the first African American undergraduate students were enrolled.  For the next three decades NC State was neither very accessible nor very hospitable to African American students.

Now NC State is among the most diverse of the UNC campuses. In the short 40 years since the civil rights movement, NC State has made significant progress in the admission, retention, and graduation of minority students. Today, NC State is among the nation’s leaders in the graduation of African American students with graduate degrees in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology (Black Issues in Higher Education, 2004). Since 1993, NC State has been recognized as one of the 100 best colleges for African American students (The 100 Best Colleges for African American Students by Erlene B. Wilson, 1993 and 1998). In addition, the NC State Women in Science and Engineering program is considered a model for higher education. NC State is now a campus where everyone is welcome.