Two top administrators from Rutgers University visited the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha this week to provide insight in how to move forward with campus diversity efforts. Last year, Nebraska voters passed Initiative 424, which eliminated Affirmative Action.
Rutgers president Richard McCormick says common ground can still be found. McCormick says, “The institutional commitments to diversity can be maintained in spite of the adoption of an anti-affirmative action initiative.”
With more than 50,000 students enrolled on its three New Jersey campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers is one of the largest universities in the U-S.
McCormick says diversity is a benefit to the learning process. “Everybody gets a better education when they go to school with kids who are not just like themselves,” McCormick says. “If you go to school with people whose backgrounds are the same as yours, who look like you, you’ll probably make a lot of friends, but you’re not nearly as well prepared for the diverse, international, multicultural 21st century.”
Jonathan Alger, senior vice president and general counsel at Rutgers, says it’s important to reach out to children in grade school, even in pre-K. “Diversity is still a compelling interest in higher education, it has benefits for the entire student body, it enriches our academic environment.”
Both men came to Rutgers after working in states which also passed initiatives to eliminate Affirmative Action. McCormick was president at the University of Washington, while Alger was assistant general counsel at the University of Michigan.