Institution's Altered Face
Administrators at colleges in the Lehigh Valley say they have
made efforts to increase minority enrollment and attract a diverse
faculty and staff.
For a small private school, Moravian College in Bethlehem seems
to have made enormous strides.
In 2000, only 4.5 percent of freshmen identified themselves as
African-American, American Indian, American Asian, Hispanic or,
the unsatisfying term reserved for even less mainstream groups,
That tally more than doubled in 2003. The number of applications
from minority students also shot up from 85 to 186, according to
The increase can in part be credited to Chris Hayes, who two years
ago became assistant director of admissions for multicultural recruitment.
Last year, the job sent him to Wisconsin, Chicago, Philadelphia,
New York, and other locations known for their diverse populations.
Upcoming recruitment trips will take him to East Harlem for the
Young Women’s Leadership Fair, to Illinois for a Hispanic
fair, and New York’s five boroughs.
Hayes was one of six minority students at a conservative Lancaster,
Pa., high school, where he was elected class president twice. After
graduation, he returned to serve on the district’s school
board. Memories of growing up include eating beans and rice next
door at a young Spanish woman’s home.
Hayes, who is black, learned early on how to appreciate other cultures
and education, in general. He noticed minority students “pushed
by the wayside” during college application time.
Hayes is adamant “that’s not going to happen here anymore,” as
he speaks from his cluttered office. Candles, a Feng Shui book,
a Zen garden and a water fountain fill one corner. African art
decorates the opposite wall.
Outside, the stone buildings and tree-lined walks set the scene
for a quintessential small liberal-arts education. That’s
exactly the image the administration aims to convey.
Small class size. An informal support system. Professors who print
their home phone numbers on syllabi. All these things look good
to students who—without Hayes’ aggressive recruitment
efforts—might never consider attending Moravian, the sixth-oldest
college in the nation.
Careful to avoid saying he hoped to sell students on the school,
Hayes understands the draw of a beautiful campus and built-in support
system. Far from the so-called “concrete jungle,” where
many recruits grew up, Moravian offers a new world.
And Moravian can give them a voice.
“They have a chance to be leaders,” Hayes said. “Show
your culture. Don’t be afraid of other cultures.”
awards scholarships and financial aid to students who would otherwise
be held back by socioeconomic factors.
So far the institution’s initiatives have foiled the Catch-22
common to admissions officers all over the country. Schools want
a diverse campus, but minority students are leery of going to a
college where they stick out among a sea of whites.
Staff members such as Karen S. Britt add to a diverse campus
Britt advises nontraditional students, many of whom work full-time
while earning degrees. She also teaches economics at Moravian
and Northampton Community College.
Eighteen months ago, Britt surveyed the educational opportunities
in the Lehigh Valley and accepted a job at Moravian as assistant
dean in continuing and graduate studies. [Editor’s note:
at the end of August 2003, Karen Britt left to pursue further career
opportunities in the Allentown School District.]
“You want to have someone among the population that you’re
looking at,” said Britt, who is black. “If there’s
no one who looks like you or who you can identify with, it’s
At a college where most day students hail from within a 100-mile
radius of Bethlehem, widening the net is a challenge.
But it’s also a must.
College President Ervin J. Rokke set a 10-percent minority enrollment
goal for incoming freshman classes. But frankly, he said, attracting
the students was the easy part.
Creating a climate where people of diverse backgrounds could
feel comfortable—that became the real test. The next step was
clear: Moravian needed to aggressively pursue minority teachers
“You need your staff and faculty to show diversity if you really
want to put your money where your mouth is,” Rokke said.
Efforts have paid off, but there’s still work to be done.
Out of 102 faculty members, two blacks and four Hispanics are poised
to begin the 2003 academic year, according to Moravian’s
Office of Human Resources.
establishing quotas, but rather through simply asking ourselves
as an institution, ‘Can you offer a legitimate liberal
arts education if you’re lily white?’
“The answer is ‘no,’ ” Rokke said.
Copyright: Easton Express-Times. Reprinted with Permission.