Q. What motivated Pine Manor to increase racial diversity in the student body?
A. In 1998 the College adopted a mission to educate women for lives of inclusive leadership and social responsibility in their workplaces, families and communities. We saw a need to create an environment that celebrates diversity and respects the common good — not only in the Boston neighborhood, but throughout the entire country. That educational mission required more diversity on campus, particularly among the student body.
Q. Does this policy also extend to the recruitment of a diverse faculty? If so, how is that accomplished?
A. Absolutely — a diverse staff is a critical component of a good education and part of a college’s responsibility. It is important for our teachers to bring different perspectives to the classroom so students learn from their varied viewpoints. We continue our efforts to hire a more-diverse staff each year, actively recruiting in different locations, using various methods and finding new pools of candidates.
Q. How many different ethnicities and minorities are represented at Pine Manor?
A. We have more than 20 ethnicities at Pine Manor — from African American to Puerto Rican to Native American to Hispanic to Cape Verdean to Haitian to Asian/Pacific Islander to Dominican and many, many more. In addition, 7 percent of our undergraduate population is international! For five of the past six years, “US News and World Report” has ranked Pine Manor as #1 in diversity among all liberal arts colleges in the country. We have 500 students and 200 employees.
Q. What is the dropout rate, and what is the greatest reason for students leaving before graduation?
A. The national graduation rate for the students we serve is 25 percent. Our rate is 53 percent. Last year Washington Monthly ranked Pine Manor College as #1 for “actual vs. predicted” rates of graduation. Students sometimes leave before graduation because of financial problems, personal life conflicts or physical health issues. However, many of them do return once these issues have been resolved.
Q. How are students who did not perform at the highest level in high school evaluated for admission? What is the enrollment process?
A. We evaluate students for admissions holistically — we consider their high school grades and their standardized test scores but we also give considerable weight to a student’s community involvement, the thoughtfulness of her essay and third party recommendations. Most importantly, we conduct substantial interviews and measure factors such as realistic self-appraisal, adaptability, long-range goals, the ability to deal with adversity, and motivation — all of which are related to “grit,” which we believe is a predictor of success.
Q. How are financial problems resolved? What steps did you take to make college affordable for the students?
A. In 1998, we reduced tuition by 34 percent and we continue to be the most affordable four-year private college in the area. In addition, 94 percent of our students receive some combination of financial aid and 21 percent of the college’s operating budget is directed toward financial aid for our students.
Q. What do you see as the benefits for students from learning in a racially-sensitive academic environment?
A. The increasing globalization of all sectors of our environment, from the home to the workplace, demands that all citizens be able to draw on the rich resources of a multicultural environment. At the same time, simply living in a diverse environment does not necessarily promote cultural sensitivity. To this end, PMC has established multicultural competency as one of the key learning outcomes. Through curricular and co-curricular programming, and a variety of opportunities for reflection, the college encourages students to learn from the diversity of their environment.
Q. Pine Manor sponsored a summit of education leaders to explore ways to increase minority college attendance. What do you expect to result from the summit?
A. The “Yes We Must Summit” brought together private colleges from across the country that are successfully educating, through graduation, students from underrepresented populations. We hope to strengthen the work of these individual colleges by joining together and gaining more resources to serve more students. This sector of higher education is essential to meeting President Obama’s goal of once again having the United States produce the highest percentage of college educated citizens.