Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 7, Number 4

Diversity Digest
Volume 7,
Number 4

Download our print issue (PDF)
Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Learning Through Evaluation: The James Irvine Foundation Campus Diversity Initiative (CDI) Project
James Irvine Foundation’s Campus Diversity Initiative
Diversity Climate Surveys:
Worth the Effort
Unleashing the Power of Metaphor: Pepperdine University
Implications of Prop 54
Faculty Involvement
Enhancing Diversity: University of Southern California
More than Bittersweet Success: University of the Pacific
Curricular Transformation
Institutionalizing Diversity: Occidental College
Educating for a Just Society: University of San Francisco
Making Diversity News
Media Watch
Teaching Students Media Skills
AAC&U Evaluation Resources
Irvine CDI Evaluation Resources
DATA: Capturing Hopes

Educating For a Just Society: The Martín-Baró Scholars Program of the University of San Francisco

By Susan Prion, associate dean, University Life and Director of Institutional Assessment; Alan Ziajka, director of institutional research; Gerardo Marin, associate provost; and Lorrie Ranck, director of the Martín-Baró Program, all of the University of San Francisco

The President of the University of San Francisco (USF), Sephen Privett, S.J., recently challenged faculty and administrators to dream about how USF could become a more diverse university that, as its mission states, “offers students the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as a person and as professionals, and with the values and sensitivity necessary to be men and women for others.” In responSE to this challenge, a living learning community for first-year and sophomore students emerged and was named after Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., a Jesuit martyr killed in El Salvador in 1989.

From the beginning, this new community of scholars was unique. It fully engaged the demographic mix of San Francisco to enrich the academic experiences of the participating students. A truly diverse community, students in the program grow from, and are challenged by, living and learning with people who are different from themselves. The program seeks to educate the whole person within a culture of service while respecting and promoting the dignity of all. USF hopes to enlarge and institutionalize this program in the future.

Father Martín-Baró argued forcefully throughout his professional life for the need to transform education to reflect the society in which we lived. One of his favorite words was desde, which can be translated as “from the perspective of:” those we study, those we serve as educators and professionals, and those who are poor and rejected. He also wrote convincingly about the need to integrate the perspectives and experiences of the marginalized in order to properly train future leaders. Martín-Baró Scholars participate in an intensive pre-freshman, summer college preparatory program. In addition, first-year and sophomore students take responsibility for their personal and academic growth and that of their peers in a comprehensive living-learning community. Additional academic and social support strategies are available to the Martín-Baró Scholars throughout their time at USF. Examples include peer and faculty mentors, special research and professional internships and apprenticeships, and comprehensive academic advising, to name but a few.

As suggested by Tinto (1999), four components guide the Martín-Baró Scholars Program. First, shared knowledge is generated by requiring a comprehensive eight-unit Core Curriculum course each semester for a selected cohort of new first-year students. This course is specially designed to explore issues of social justice and diversity and to involve students in reflective service learning. Sophomores who have completed the program can extend their learning to others by registering for the Global Leadership Course, a platform for mentoring future Martín-Baró cohorts and for extending previous learning into a broader, more global context.

Second, shared learning is provided through intellectual and social approaches demonstrated in the classroom and on two floors of the same residence hall where they live together. Martín-Baró Scholars are taught by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of two faculty members and the program coordinator.

Third, shared responsibility is developed through collaborative learning processes that make each student responsible for the learning of the whole community. Last, by sharing their abilities and efforts with the poor and underserved in the larger community, students engage in a fourth component—service. During the summer between the sophomore and junior years, students in the Martín-Baró Scholars Program are expected to participate in one of the international immersion programs sponsored by USF in South Africa, Tijuana (Mexico), Manila (The Philippines), or San Salvador (El Salvador).


The evaluation plan for the Martín-Baró Scholars program involves three steps: (1) individuals responsible for the evaluation implement the plan and conduct the analysis; (2) all members of the university community involved in the Irvine-funded initiatives review the results of the evaluation and discuss the implications; and (3) the results are disseminated to the university community for consultation, further analysis, and action. The evaluation process thus contributes to the realization of the program’s goals as well as to the achievement of the diversity goals of the entire university. For example, using annual registration figures, we are measuring change over time in the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates among all ethnic minority students at USF to evaluate our institutional goal of increasing student diversity.
One of the goals of the Martín-Baró Program is to identify and evaluate the best combination of retention and degree-completion strategies for USF and weave them together to help minority students develop the skills necessary to complete their college education and become role models for other students. Once these strategies are identified and evaluated, they are applied throughout the university. The instruments employed in this evaluation include the freshman survey of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and the Pascarella and Terenzini Student Survey, among others. Together these instruments measure a wide range of student attitudes and educational attributes including institutional commitment, sense of belonging, self-esteem, and academic preparation.

The results of these assessments are compared to the results from a control group living in the same residence hall on campus, but that is not part of the program. The preliminary results from our study indicate a higher level of integration, academic involvement, persistence, and institutional and goal commitment among the Martín-Baró scholars in comparison with the control group students. In addition, a qualitative assessment is undertaken, which includes focus groups, individual interviews, and personal reflection papers and journals.
In the final analysis, the evaluation of the Martín-Baró Program will provide information on the development, implementation, and effectiveness of USF diversity initiatives and their overall institutional impact. We expect that lessons from this Program can be successfully applied throughout the University of San Francisco.


Tinto, V. 1999. Taking retention seriously: Rethinking the first year of college. NACADA Journal, 19:2, 5-9.
Terenzini, P. & E. Pascarella. 1980. Predicting freshman persistence and voluntary dropout decisions from a theoretical model. Journal of Higher Education, 51, 60-75.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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