The Lehigh University Hillel.(Lehigh Hillel.)

Sue Fishkoff files a great story in JTA on the “nearly 25 percent of Jewish college students in North America [who] attend schools with small Jewish student bodies and limited Jewish resources”—and on the colleges (in particular small liberal-arts colleges) that are actively trying to recruit them. Whether it is constructing new Hillel centers, recruiting at Schechters, or providing kosher dining options, many small, rural schools are taking advantage of the ever-increasing selectivity of the more prominent and generally more urban institutions that tend the 100,000 annual college-bound Jewish high school graduates tend to favor.

Writes Fishkoff:

Admissions officers and deans at these schools rarely say they are actively recruiting Jewish students; instead they say they are looking to “increase diversity.” But off the record, many admit that Jewish students bring certain assets, from leadership skills and good academic records, while they are on campus to a propensity for donating to the school once they graduate.

“We’re recruiting more on the East and West coasts, looking for students in private schools, and the Jewish day school students are very compatible with Bradley [University, in Peoria, Illinois].”

The article put me in mind of the famous 2002 AP story on Vanderbilt University’s gambit of recruiting Jews in an effort to raise mean SAT scores. The (small) Vandy backlash always struck me as misguided, and Fishkoff’s piece is a nice corrective to whatever of it remains. Jews ought to be (and most no doubt are) proud of their general tendency toward academic accomplishment and their desirability to colleges across the country.

U.S. Colleges With Few Jews Building Facilities To Draw More [JTA]
Related: Vanderbilt U. Woos Jewish Students [AP/BeliefNet]