Campus Diversity Initiative Print E-mail
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Participating grantees




To increase access and success of underrepresented minority and low-income students in higher education in California.


Irvine established the Campus Diversity Initiative (CDI) to strengthen campus diversity efforts at 28 independent colleges and universities in California. Between 2000 and 2006, Irvine invested $29 million in the initiative to support a range of campus activities and institutional changes to increase access and success of underrepresented students in higher education. Success was defined as academic persistence and degree completion, as well as high achievement.

At the outset of the initiative, each participating institution identified a set of campus-wide diversity goals and strategies tailored to the institution's unique needs. In the end, while these institutions represented a diverse group, and each had a somewhat different emphasis, they shared many of the same goals and strategies. The strategies fit into four categories:

  1. Programs to increase access and success of underrepresented students, such as admissions outreach, financial aid, gateway courses, summer programs and collaboration across academic units
  2. Efforts to improve campus climate and minority group interrelations, such as campus programs and events, communications on diversity issues from senior leadership, living-learning communities, and assessments of campus climate
  3. Initiatives to attract more faculty members of diverse backgrounds, provide faculty training workshops and professional development, make curriculum changes and offer grant programs for research and curriculum development
  4. Efforts to raise diversity as a core institutional goal through better ongoing accountability on diversity goals with participation from campus senior administrative and academic leadership

Irvine designed the Campus Diversity Initiative with evaluation as an integral strategy and adopted an organizational learning approach as its fundamental orientation in order to keep campus leaders involved and create long-lasting impact. (More details about this approach are available here.) Participating institutions were required to collect and report on a common set of indicators annually to inform the evaluation and to assess achievements. Evidence of disparities in student outcomes, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, were an effective way to raise awareness and engage campus senior administrative and academic leadership to address the disparities. This evidence also promoted campus accountability on education outcomes to various constituents.

Participating grantees

Twenty-eight independent colleges and universities participated in California in the Campus Diversity Initiative.


The evaluation component was designed to help grantees focus their diversity initiatives and track larger institutional goals. A team of researchers from Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) led the evaluation. The evaluation project team worked closely with grantees to develop each institution's own evaluation expertise and mechanisms, measure success, make midcourse corrections and ultimately broaden and sustain diversity efforts beyond the scope and phase of the funded projects.


The evaluation identified four key objectives:

  1. Develop the evaluation capacity of participating institutions: Provide customized evaluation assistance in undertaking the following activities: 1) assess their current level of development on issues of diversity, 2) develop goals and assessment plans, and 3) assess and learn from their progress.
  2. Share information: Promote information exchange and learning across the institutions and create links to other campuses and researchers engaged in diversity work.
  3. Assess the overall impact of the Campus Diversity Initiative.
  4. Contribute to the broader knowledge base and theory about diversity in higher education.

Time frame:

2000 — 2006


Six questions formed the basis of the initiative-wide evaluation:

  • What is the status of the success of underrepresented populations in CDI-funded institutions?
  • What is the status of institutional capacity for diversity? Have institutions changed over time? Are the diversity efforts likely to be sustained?
  • What was the impact of CDI-funded efforts?
  • What goals and strategies were included in CDI-funded efforts?
  • What mechanisms seem to facilitate and impede progress?
  • What lessons have been learned in general?

In order to address these questions, the evaluation team developed a set of indicators that grantees used in their interim reports to the Foundation. These institutional data informed the impact assessment of the initiative across all the campuses. In addition to the data provided by each campus, the evaluation team conducted an extensive document analysis and site visits to about half of the campuses.


The evaluation findings provided important insights about the progress made by CDI campuses with regard to access and success of underrepresented students on their respective campuses, the success of specific diversity practices, and the applicability of an organizational learning approach to change in higher education and to diversity change in particular.

The evaluation team produced a final evaluation report in July 2006. In addition, based on the evaluation findings, Irvine issued three research briefs in 2005 and 2006. AAC&U also published a monograph and a resource kit on evaluation for use by campuses in 2005, both of which can be found on AAC&U's website.



Dr. Daryl Smith
Professor of Education and Psychology
Claremont Graduate University
Harper Hall, Room 202
150 E. Tenth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6160

Dr. Alma Clayton-Pedersen
Vice President for Education and Institutional Renewal
Association of American Colleges & Universities
1818 R St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009

Sharon Parker
Senior Research Associate
Claremont Graduate University
Harper Hall, Room 30A
150 E. Tenth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6160

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