Universities in the US have become increasingly diverse in recent decades. This reflects changing demographics of the nation, and is felt in both on-campus and online classrooms. Adding to this changing tapestry is a surge among women and certain ethnicities and races to pursue higher education. The result far and wide–including to WT as well as the Engler College of Business–is a student body very different from last century.
Perhaps the biggest change has been the number of women pursuing degrees. While many universities now have a 60-40 split (favoring women), even once male-dominant programs like in Business have attracted an increasing number of women. Women view business degrees as a necessary component of their training and preparation for professional life. Within the COB, women are now about 50% of the student body, with that number continuing to increase over time.
The COB is also experiencing growing diversity in terms of race and ethnicity as well, with Hispanics being the largest group to have a presence both on-campus and online. This reflects demographic changes in the Panhandle and throughout Texas, as well as the growing desire in the Hispanic community for a university education.
For example, approximately 28% of the student body in the College self-identifies as Hispanic. This statistic is in step with the University, and puts WT above the federal threshold for being an HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution). The COB can make a similar claim as a unit.
Other groups are likewise growing, forever changing the look and feel of our student body, and for the benefit of all. All told, only about 51.5% of our students self-identify as White, a very different landscape from the 1980s. It is this diversity that adds flavor to being in the COB, as students are exposed to different cultures.
In recognition of these changing demographics, the COB is proud to have a student chapter of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America). Dr. Leslie Ramos Salazar is faculty advisor for this growing group, helping guide these often first-generation students on their professional path.
“ALPFA is a leadership career club that takes great pride in the Hispanic/Latinx culture of the business world. Our ALPFA students are not just Hispanic/Latinx; they are truly multicultural, they are also first generation, international, veterans, or non-traditional students,” Ramos Salazar said. “I am excited to see the demographic numbers increase of our diverse students because they are an asset to the college and the local community. “
But ALPFA is more than just providing support for students, because Ramos Salazar prompts them to be significant players in their communities. “For instance, they provide ideas for community service projects such as the El Barrio Clean Up with the Barrio Neighborhood Planning Committee, and the current Holiday Food Drive for the Buff-A-Food Pantry. Each semester students also select companies and Hispanic/Latinx leaders that they wish to network with from the local community,” she continued.
If the College of Business looks and feels a little different these days, it is because we have embraced a very diverse student body. Our societal impact will be greater as we send these men and women into the world.