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Spring 2003
Why UCLA?
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WALTER ALLEN
PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY

WALTER ALLEN realized that UCLA would be an exceptional opportunity for him when he stepped into a class on campus for the first time.

It was 1987, and Allen was then on the sociology faculty at the University of Michigan and being wooed by UCLA. “What tipped the scale for me — what really got me excited about this university — was going into a class and seeing the rainbow of colors,” he says. “It really drove home the point for me that excellence in higher education is enhanced when the cultural and racial diversity of an institution is strong.”

That diversity slipped in the wake of 1996’s Proposition 209, which banned race from consideration as a criterion for admission, but “we’ve gained some ground that was lost, and there’s still a ways to go to ensure that the excellence that emerges from diversity reaches its full potential,” Allen says.

Allen, who has won awards from six national organizations for his scholarship exploring the academic experience, college choices among Black and Latino students and the status of Black males in American society, feels a strong personal and professional connection to the public university experience.

“My education after high school was entirely at private institutions, so for me it is enlightening to be associated with a public institution that achieves excellence while serving a broader population,” he says.

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