Leveraging Dicersity: Is “Critical Mass” of Same-Race Peers Necessary for Fostering Educational Benefits?
Uma Jayakumar

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of San Francisco

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
The recent Supreme Court case of Fisher v University of Texas made clear the need for a more nuanced understanding of the effects of diversity on four-year college and university campuses. There is a lack of clarity with respect to same-race representation and whether the presence of a “critical mass” of students from a given racial or ethnic group may or may not affect integration and educational outcomes for students both within the group and at large. Drawing from two national, longitudinal datasets I will explore these issues across various racial groups. I will also examine the extent to which same-race representation on campus promotes a positive racial climate for students who grew up in both diverse and segregated neighborhoods. The research builds on existing studies to contribute to our empirical and policy understanding of how student body composition can impact learning environments in an increasingly diverse and global society.
About Uma Jayakumar
Uma M. Jayakumar is a fourth year Assistant Professor of Organization and Leadership at the University of San Francisco’s School of Education and Co-Director of the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s program. She earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA. Before coming to USF she was a Faculty Associate at the University of Michigan with the Education and Well Being program in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research (ISR). Jayakumar’s scholarship examines race, equity, and diversity issues in higher education, with a focus on how institutional environments such as campus climates and cultures, and organizational practices shape access, experiences, race-relations, and educational outcomes among college students. These topics are reflected in the courses she teaches, which include “ Race, Diversity, and Higher Education” and “Campus Environments and Cultures.” Jayakumar’s research is featured in the Harvard Educational Review, the Journal of Higher Education, Diverse Magazine, reports to foundations and educational institutes, and her co-edited book entitled: “Creating Campus Cultures: Fostering Success among Diverse Student Populations.” Dr. Jayakumar is recipient of the 2007 Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Award by the Association for the Study of Higher Education and was named Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the National Center for Institutional Diversity in 2010. Last year, Jayakumar was one of 21 social science researchers who co-developed an amicus brief summarizing key research findings related to the use of race-conscious admissions practices. The brief, submitted to The Supreme Court by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, supports the need for affirmative action in Higher Education Institutions. In addition to the Social Scientists brief, her work informs numerous amici, including those submitted to the Court by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), National Women’s Law Center, 17 United States Senators, Harvard Graduate School of Education Students for Diversity, and Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.

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