AAVMC continues to move the needle on diversity. More work needed on admissions, campus climate, speakers say.
By Malinda Larkin
Posted April 16, 2015
Ten years ago, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges launched its DiVersity Matters initiative, which seeks to increase diversity at U.S. veterinary colleges. At the time, Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC associate executive director for institutional research and diversity, who has a doctorate in education, said that for these institutions to be responsive to the changing face of the U.S. population, they must both individually and collectively grow an applicant pool and an enrollment that mirror population demographics (J Vet Med Educ 2007;34:43-46).
Looking at today’s figures, it appears the situation has changed for the better in some ways but not all. The number of historically underrepresented students at U.S. veterinary colleges has increased from 951, or 9.7 percent of the total students enrolled, in 2005 to 1,810, or 14.6 percent, in 2015, according to AAVMC data.
However, the makeup of the veterinary applicant pool hasn’t changed much in the past five years. During that period, 77 percent of applicants were female, with a mean age of 21 years. Additionally, of those who responded to the AAVMC annual applicant survey in the past five years and identified with at least one race, 72 percent were Caucasian.
Speakers at the AAVMC’s Annual Conference, held March 13-15 in Washington, D.C., discussed strategies for attracting diverse students to veterinary medicine and what institutions are doing to enhance cultural awareness and competence. The theme was “Recruiting and Selecting for the Future of Veterinary Medicine,” but the topic of diversity and inclusion carried throughout the conference, which was held in conjunction with the 20th Iverson Bell Symposium—the oldest and largest diversity-themed event in the profession.