Minority enrollment increases after record low

By Marcia Harris

After reaching a record low in 2004, the University’s minority enrollment is expected to increase with the entrance of the class of 2009 this fall. In 2004, there was a noticeable decline in the number of African-American freshmen, dropping by nearly 200, with comparable figures in the Latino campus population. In response, the University took significant steps to resolve the problem. Associate Provost, Keith Marshall said compared to this time last year, enrollment is up 25 percent for African-Americans and 6 percent for Latinos.

“We were concerned about the drop and made a concerted effort to recruit students of color. We tried to make sure students offered admission knew enough information about our university and answered any questions they had. This increased the number of acceptances of admission,” Marshall said.

Marshall believes contacting applicants personally by phone made a difference. In 2005, the number of acceptances of admission rose from 50.1 percent to 57.4 percent.

Tramal Taylor, Whitney Young graduate and incoming freshman in LAS, was on campus for Tuesday’s freshmen orientation. He said diversity did play a role in his decision to come to the University.

“U of I was one of my favorite schools but the number of minorities did matter. A lot of (minorities) from my high school come here,” Taylor said.

Although the number of freshmen minorities has increased, they will not have the opportunity to participate in the extended minority orientation program as they did in the past. Orientation has been shortened to one day for all students. Taylor said he would have liked the opportunity to participate.

“That would have been nice because I haven’t met too many black students since I’ve been here so far,” Taylor said.

The news of the decline in minority enrollment at the University reached the ears of some college-bound high school seniors. Sarah Bish, incoming freshman in LAS, commented on the increase in minority enrollment in the class of 2009. She thinks it could be part of a more general trend.

“I know the minority population in my high school class of 2005 was higher than the class of 2004. Maybe that has something to do with it,” Bish said.

Yet, Bish’s main reason for choosing the University was the campus environment and academic programs.

“I chose U of I because it was so big with so many awesome programs. I knew that whatever I chose to do, they would have a solid program of study,” Bish said.