UC Berkeley dean discusses admissions process, student diversity

photo of Olufemi "Femi" Ogundele
Stephan McNally/File

Related Posts

Olufemi Ogundele, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions, answered questions and discussed changes to UC Berkeley’s admissions process to increase the diversity of incoming classes during a Berkeley Conversations event.

During the event, which was moderated by assistant vice chancellor of executive communications Dan Mogulof, Ogundele discussed the nuance of evaluating students from various academic backgrounds.

“Enrollment is more than just thinking about admitting students; it’s about not just bringing students into the institution but also ensuring that they are persisting and thriving once they get here,” Ogundele said during the event.

Ogundele also discussed the creation of an associate director of diversity outreach and a diversity team at UC Berkeley to show the campus’s commitment to centering diversity.

According to Ogundele, diversity is important as research suggests that diverse and collaborative environments would allow for more creativity. Additionally, as a public institution, campus should have a population reflective of the diversity of the state, Ogundele added.

The discussion also explored the potential impact of removing standardized tests as a metric for admission. According to Ogundele, while this decision has made an impact in the 28% increase in applications campus received this year, standardized test scores such as SAT scores aren’t the only factor as applications are graded holistically.

Instead, Ogundele attributed the application increase to campus’s “hard work” and “strong messaging.” Ogundele also addressed how COVID-19 has impacted the admissions process; efforts such as virtual outreach allows admissions to reach students in secondary cities of other countries instead of just capital cities.

“COVID was an experience that really showed nationally what institutions valued because it required us to boil things down to what is the most salient and most important in this environment,” Ogundele said during the event.

Among plans for the future of admissions, Ogundele discussed campus’s commitment to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, an institution where a quarter or more of its students are Latinx, to better reflect the demographics of the state.

Ogundele addressed campus’s efforts to become an HSI, despite the state’s passage of Prop. 209, which limits the campus’s ability to use factors such as race and gender in admissions. According to Ogundele, identifying successful students requires considering students in the context of their backgrounds and broadening the definitions of excellence.

Recruiting involves not just the individual students but also getting parents, teachers and counselors on board as well, Ogundele added.

“I recognize that the diversity numbers at Berkeley are not what many people would like them to be and there’s a ton of historical reasons for that, and while that history is important, I’m much more focused on what we are becoming,” Ogundele said during the event.

Contact Blake Evans at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Blake_J_Evans.