How UCLA’s Black Enrollment Rebounded - Higher Education
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How UCLA’s Black Enrollment Rebounded

by Shilpa Banerji

Community leaders and Black alumni stepped up to help boost Black enrollment at the University of California, Los Angeles this year. The number of Black students who said they plan to enroll as freshmen in the fall doubled from 103 to 203, bringing the percentage of Black UCLA freshmen to 4.5 percent, up from 2.2 percent a year ago.

When the number of Black students reached a crisis point last year, UCLA students, alumni and other individuals in the Los Angeles community came together to find a solution. The steep dip in the numer of Black UCLA students has been widely attributed to the passage of Proposition 209, a voter-approved law prohibiting public institutions from considering race, ethnicity or gender in the admissions process.

“I’m very pleased that all of these students, who will be bringing with them the highest academic and leadership credentials, have chosen to come to UCLA,” says acting chancellor Norman Abrams.

Abrams also credits community leaders and UCLA alumni for creating legacy scholarships for incoming Black freshmen. The legacy scholarship fund is administered by the nonprofit California Community Foundation.

“These scholarships played a critical role in attracting to UCLA these future leaders in the tradition of Tom Bradley, Ralph J. Bunche and Jackie Robinson,” says Abrams.

Of the 11,924 students admitted to UCLA for fall 2007, 19.4 percent are either American Indian, Black or Hispanic, up almost 3 percent from a year ago. Asian Americans make up 41.2 percent of the freshman class, while Whites comprise 32.9 percent. Hispanics are the next largest segment of the freshman class, at 14.6 percent. American Indians, meanwhile, represent only 0.3 percent of the class. Five percent chose not to state their ethnicity or race, and 1.4 percent identified themselves as “other.”

Peter Taylor, who chairs the UCLA African American Student Enrollment Task Force, says students, alumni and the community played important roles in reaching out to Black students and encouraging them to enroll. Admitted Black students were hosted for a weekend at UCLA by the Black Alumni Association and the African Student Union, during which they had the opportunity to tour the campus, stay in the residence halls and have a dinner with their parents, UCLA students, alumni and staff to learn more about the campus.

“Trying to improve financial aid and providing the personal touch to let students know that UCLA is a good place for them is what we hoped to achieve during these events,” Taylor says. “What the numbers show is that when you take financial considerations away by having a scholarship to offer, the admitted students are able to look at the opportunities at UCLA and see that it is a great choice.”

The fall 2007 freshman applicants were the first for whom UCLA used the holistic admissions approach, under which each application was read and considered in its entirety by two trained readers instead of different readers evaluating separate parts of each application.

Dr. Janina Montero, UCLA’s vice chancellor for student affairs, says the holistic approach, in combination with the efforts of the larger community, can be mirrored in other schools and minority groups.

“These students have outstanding academic credentials and come from very diverse backgrounds. I believe they will make great contributions to this campus,” Montero says. 

By Shilpa Banerji

 

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