While many institutions around the country are struggling to diversify their campuses, Pacific Union College has been named the most ethnically diverse National Liberal Arts College in the nation, according to the new annual rankings of best colleges released by U.S. News & World Report. PUC has previously ranked second and third in this category.
“Pacific Union College in honored to be recognized as the #1 most diverse National Liberal Arts College in the entire country,” said PUC President Dr. Heather J. Knight. “We believe that we have achieved this exemplary level of diversity because we are privileged to be part of a dynamic global church whose message is relevant and attractive to all kindreds, tongues, and nations. Furthermore, we highly prize our very special young people who are truly living out the vision of the Beloved Community as they study, worship and play together. In this diverse setting, they are also learning the essential skills of intercultural competence and global understanding, which is so highly valued in the workplace today. Therefore, we fully expect our graduates to go forth as successful peacemakers and light in the world.”
The 2017 rankings are based upon information submitted by colleges for the 2015-2016 academic year. For the diversity category, the ranking calculates the proportion of minority students within the student body, omitting international students, and awards institutions a score ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 on the diversity index. The index measures the probability that any two randomly chosen students from a given school are of different races or ethnic groups. The closer a school is to 1.0, the more diverse the student body. PUC scored 0.76, with the largest minority population being Hispanic. Tied for second place were Salem College in North Carolina and Soka University of America in California, both of which received a score of 0.72.
According to Serhii Kalynovs’kyi, PUC’s director of institutional research, assessment & planning, for the 2015-2016 academic year, PUC’s student body was 28 percent Hispanic/Latino, 26 percent Caucasian/non-Latino, 19 percent Asian, nine percent black or African American, and two percent Pacific Islander, with the remaining 16 percent being multiracial or unknown.
The college sees its ethnic diversity rating as a unique educational advantage for students, providing them with an environment where they are able to both live and learn together with students different from themselves, from a variety of cultural backgrounds, helping to prepare them to work in today’s global, multiethnic society.
In large part, the college’s diversity ranking is due to over 80 percent of the students at PUC being Seventh-day Adventist. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, the Adventist Church is the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the country. On a diversity index scale of one to 10, Adventists scored a 9.1, with 37 percent Caucasian/non-Latino, 32 percent black or African American, 15 percent Hispanic/Latino, eight percent Asian, and eight percent another race or multiracial.
Historically, PUC has always been committed to diversity. In 1883, just one year after its founding, the college admitted Charles Kinney, a young black man who, for two years, studied on the Healdsburg campus at a time when such things were unheard of. Kinney would go on to be the first ordained black minister within the denomination, and helped start five of the first six black Adventist churches in the U.S.
Today, as the latest ranking from U.S. News & World Report shows, the college continues to have a multiethnic campus, as a reflection of the world church and ultimately God’s Kingdom, while seeking to produce Christ-like men and women to lead productive lives of useful human service and uncompromising personal integrity.