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Sheila Bair’s One Weird Trick to Make Her College Less White

Recruiting students of color can be as hard as getting them to stay. Bair’s solution? The buddy system.

When former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chair Sheila Bair took over Washington College last year, she immediately started making changes. One of her goals was to find innovative ways to reduce her students’ debt burden. But she also tackled a related and not insignificant problem: the overwhelming whiteness of her campus.

Three of every four students on the school's small rural campus in Maryland are white. It's not an unusual statistic at the nation's top schools, where black students in particular rarely make up more than 8 percent of undergraduates, Education Department data show.