Familiar faces? Sacramento State is a campus with one of the most diverse populations in the nation. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

Sacramento State’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion garnered national attention in the latest U.S. News & World Report 2018 Best Colleges rankings.

Sac State stands out as No. 4 in the Campus Ethnic Diversity Regional Universities West category and is one of only four CSU campuses on the list. The top three schools ranked by diversity are are Cal State, East Bay; Chaminade University of Honolulu; and Hawaii Pacific University. 

The high ranking is a nod to Sac State’s dedication to access, academic excellence, and inclusion that transcends race, ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, gender identity, immigration status - all of which help form the campus community's character.

“In order to be a true leader in the 21st century, one must be familiar and comfortable working with people who are different from themselves,” says Rita Cameron-Wedding, professor of ethnic studies and women’s studies.

“Attending a university as diverse as Sacramento State means that our students have the opportunity to become more competitive academically and professionally, because for many of them, they are exposed to individuals from diverse communities for the first time in their lives.

Cameron-Wedding said that exposure creates an experience that goes beyond traditional learning, helping "produce the 21st-century leaders we need to change ther prevailing social climate in America."

To calculate the ethnic diversity rankings, U.S. News factors in the total proportion of minority students - leaving out international students - and the overall mix of groups to identify where students are most likely to encounter undergraduates from racial or ethnic groups different from their own. This index measures the probability that any two people chosen at random from a given school are of different races or ethnic groups.

“In kindergarten, I was the only Hmong student in the classroom. There was nobody who looked like me or spoke my language,” says Paha Xiong, a psychology student and program assistant for the Full Circle Project. “When I moved to Sacramento, I started to benefit from being in a culturally diverse community and school. Now that I attend Sac State, I know that diversity and inclusion have pushed me to continue my path in higher education.”

Additionally, Sac State was listed as No. 20 on the Top Public Schools Regional Universities West (tied with Texas A&M International University) and No. 70 on the Regional Universities West (tied with Houston Baptist University and Texas A&M International University).

And Sac State’s engineering program made the list at No. 57 for Best Undergraduate Engineering Program, a tie with 17 other schools.

The U.S. News rankings methodology focuses on academic excellence, with schools evaluated on hundreds of data points and up to 15 measures of academic quality, including graduation and first-year student retention rates, assessment by administrators at peer institutions, faculty resources, admissions selectivity and financial resources.

The Washington Monthly also released its annual College Guide and rankings with Sac State coming in at No. 19 in the “Best Bang for the Buck – West” category. The independent magazine also ranks schools based on the good they are doing for the country. In the National Universities – Masters category, Sac State was ranked No. 47 out of 632. Schools are rated based on their contribution to the public good in three categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing scholarships and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). - Anita Fitzhugh

Swarm of diversity at Sac State