CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's new assistant director for minority recruitment sees her job more as an engineering project than a recruiting drive.

"Primarily, I'm a social worker and I see my mission as building a bridge from the minority communities to OSU," said LaDonna Dixon. "For me, it is all social work in the large context."

A native of San Diego who has spent the last 18 years working primarily with minority communities, Dixon comes to OSU from Atlanta, where she worked with high school youth to enhance opportunities for higher education.

"I'm excited about showing minority students that higher education is the way to go and at the same time, what OSU has to offer," Dixon said.

Oregon's minority population is about 12.5 percent and OSU's percentage of students of color is about 13.1 percent, based on the latest OSU enrollment data from the 1999 academic year.

Since arriving on campus, Dixon has been busy attending cultural events throughout the region, as well familiarizing herself with the university. There are a number of offices on campus that work on minority recruitment, and one of her goals is to increase coordination among various offices to enhance the university's efforts.

She said it is especially important for the university to reach out to those students who are interested in a college education but feel lost about how to approach the process of finding a university and applying for admission.

"Large institutions such as universities can be intimidating to students who are not used to dealing with them," she said.

Dixon received her undergraduate degree at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. and her master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

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LaDonna Dixon, 541-737-8863