Admissions expands diversity recruitment

The University of Vermont admissions programs that familiarize high school students from diverse backgrounds with the University will continue to expand urban outreach initiatives in order to bring more diversity to UVM. Establishing formal partnerships with urban high schools is a win-win situation for both students at those high schools and for UVM, Interim Dean of Admissions Susan Wertheimer said. UVM’s first partnership with Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx began in the early part of the decade. According to University Communications, UVM’s partnership programs are designed to promote early college awareness, supply counseling to students and families about financial aid, and offer college counseling to students. “It’s the kind of work that a less-busy college counselor would provide and that an urban school just doesn’t have the time to do,” Wertheimer said. The program begins for students as early as ninth grade, and by the time they are juniors or seniors, the students are brought to Burlington through the help of JetBlue to see UVM, Wertheimer said. “We invite other students to this program as well, it’s not just our partnership students,” said Wertheimer. The goal of these programs for UVM is to increase diversity among the student body. “In order to diversify the student population at UVM, we have to do more than the traditional recruitment. We have to do a lot more outreach, we have to develop relationships with students over a longer time,” Wertheimer said. In addition to Christopher Columbus High School, UVM also has a formal partnership with the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan. In addition to partnerships in New York City, UVM has a partnership with Burlington High School, Wertheimer said. “We partner with all Vermont high schools but we have tried to develop a special relationship with our own city and it is one of the more diverse schools in the state. “We do cast a much wider net than just the partnerships but the partnerships have been a good addition to our overall recruitment efforts. We are going to be increasingly creative, looking at foundations and at scholarship programs,” said Wertheimer. “There are lots of different programs and a lot of good efforts nationally to get students to think about college, and access to college for all students is a big issue. Access doesn’t start when a student is a high school senior; we have to reach out earlier,” she said. According to the UVM Sourcebook Web site, the number of multicultural under?graduate students has risen from 419 in the fall of 2001, to 612 in the fall of 2006, yet the number of international students has decreased. “If you look at the numbers [of multicultural students] over the last 10 years, they have been steadily growing. So we feel like we have had some success, but we don’t feel like it’s enough,” said Wertheimer. Wertheimer acknowledges that international recruitment is very limited by resources but it is hopefully something that can be in?creased over time, especially with the new Vice President for Enrollment Management working with the Office of International Education. “The hope is to continue to increase [multicultural] numbers and to be creative about how we recruit diverse populations. Certainly the goal is not to stop; we are proud of our accomplishments but we know that we have a long way to go,” Wertheimer said.