Friday, September 22, 2006

Can SIU's new minority recruiting drive work?

When I heard Poshard speak last week, I bet he talked about minority recruitment and SIU's history of graduating black students for 1/3 of the time. It felt nice and he delivered it well. He said several times that SIU was going to recruit more black students because it was our heritage and seemed to indicate it would work. He also talked about pursuit of minority faculty.

Flash back in time to 1960 and SIU was one of the best universities to attend if you were black. Sure there was discrimination, but it wasn't a show stopper like it was in the South and on the East Coast. But the marketing secret is that no one else was doing it and being the only one allowed SIU to be the best.

Return to the present and SIU has a few departments that are world class, Auto Tech, Aviation Tech and the nuts and bolts side of Mass Comm (which reports indicate the dean is busy ripping apart). The reason these programs are so highly regarded is they have no real competition and they do good work. Is SIU's Chemistry Department any good? Sure, but world class? Not by a long shot. In any area that SIU goes directly for the brass ring and that market is understood and estabilshed, the chances for world class or even above averageresults are very small. This is because of location, size, money, history, etc.

When you start looking into minority student recruitment, every university in the country is trying to get their minority student headcount up. Black and Hispanic students with reasonable test scores and grades are in short supply if you compare those populations with Asian descent or White students. The type of students who used to come to SIU because there was no where else to go, now get scholarships to U of I, Harvard, U of Chicago and Northwestern. It isn't cheaper to come to SIU and so they go to the school with the better brand. With the demand for qualified black students exceeding the supply at the moment, it is going to be hard to grow SIUC's numbers by attracting qualified black students.

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