UNK Receives Chambers Diversity Award

Renee Ballenger

UNK was awarded the Business Diversity Award at this year’s Kearney Chamber of Commerce 90th Annual Meeting on March 2. Accepting the award on behalf of the University, Chancellor Doug Kristensen passed along the credit to the many faculty, administrators and staff who “deserve this recognition.” He pointed out the high value to UNK students of being able, right here in Central Nebraska, to experience the diversity of the world and the nation as an important part of their education.

The nomination statement declared that “from the very beginning, UNK and the Kearney community realized the importance of a diverse student/faculty/staff population, not only to provide students with a solid educational base, but in the sharing of ideas, cultures, and creating a campus and a community engaging in a multicultural [and international] climate” with events such as Multicultural Scholars and Leaders Day, a Cultural Unity Conference and the annual James Smith World Affairs Conference.

By the efforts of many, the University has seen a 17 percent increase in Hispanic undergraduate students in recent years while maintaining the gains made for student in other categories of race. UNK’s 2008 enrollment statistics shows that of the 5,104 undergraduate students currently enrolled, 77 percent are Caucasian, 1 percent are African-American, 4 percent Hispanic, .3 percent American Indian, .7 percent Asian, 11 percent international, and 6 percent listed their ethnicity as “other.”

The number of international students on campus has also increased steadily, rising to 600 students this year from 47 nations around the world, or 11 percent of undergraduates, the highest percentage of any other college or university in Nebraska and the surrounding Midwest region.

Ethnic Studies is now offered as a minor and a review of the Cultural Diversity course offerings is being completed with possible inclusion in the General Studies requirements.