Bowdoin Uses Scholarships to Increase Racial and Ethnic Student Diversity
The racial and ethnic makeup of the student body at Bowdoin College will be more diverse this fall because of two scholarship programs that are counteracting the state’s disadvantages in attracting minority students.
Scholarships from the Posse Foundation, along with the Chamberlain Leadership Scholarship, are bringing 16 minority students to Bowdoin this fall.
The student body has always been geographically diverse, with this year’s freshmen hailing from 38 states, the District of Columbia and 15 foreign countries. But racial and ethnic diversity has been slower to develop, with minorities making up only 13 percent of freshman last year and 18 percent this year.
“It’s been frustrating, but this is a high priority for us,” says Richard Steele, Bowdoin’s vice president of admissions and student aid. “We’re a national college. We want to make sure we are educating leadership for the entire country.”
One reason Maine has a harder time recruiting minority students is the perception of the state as the second “Whitest” state in America after Vermont. The State Planning office says minorities make up less than 2 percent of Maine’s 1.2 million residents.
Bowdoin has also become the first private college in the Northeast to accept a group of inner-city Boston students on scholarships from the Posse Foundation.
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