University News

2014 boasts most black students

By
Senior Staff Writer

Black enrollment swelled to 144 students in the class of 2014 — more than in any past cohort.

This is chiefly due to boosted recruitment efforts following a significant dip in the group’s matriculation in the class of 2013, according to the Admission Office.

“We’re up about 60 percent from last year in terms of African-Americans enrolling,” said Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73. “It’s the most diverse class we’ve ever had in history.”

This spike is the result of a University effort to widen the pool of applicants after 93 black students, a comparatively low figure, enrolled in the class of 2013. Over the past 35 years, the highest number of black students in one class was 116, according to Miller.

“There has been a great deal of progress,” said Director of Institutional Diversity Valerie Wilson. “It’s part of a very aggressive and specific strategy.”

The University targeted high schools with a large number of would-be first-generation university graduates, employed minority recruitment interns and joined the QuestBridge consortium, a program that identifies and awards scholarships to promising, underprivileged students across the country.

About 2,000 students, chiefly low-income and of color, learned about Brown through QuestBridge, Miller said.

“That gave us access to a really talented group of kids,” he said. “We do think QuestBridge had a great deal to do with this increase.”

In addition to broadening the pool of applicants, the admission office aimed to increase the number of black students who opted to enroll at Brown once admitted. The Inman Page Black Alumni Council was instrumental in the process, contacting both admitted students and their parents, Miller added.

Their council’s efforts on campus are continuing. The council is hosting a discussion titled “Getting Blacks to Brown: Increasing the Black Student Matriculation” this Saturday.

For the class of 2014, Brown’s targeting strategy was more influential than the switch to the Common Application, which was credited with much of the boom in applications for the class of 2013, Miller said.

“The Common App does eliminate road blocks or speed bumps for students who have less sophistication,” he said. “It’s a function of the Common App plus our outreach efforts.”

These efforts have also involved current undergraduates such as Christopher Belcher ’11, who works as a minority recruitment intern. He highlighted the Third World Center’s programs, but added that Brown’s focus on reaching students in their community was crucial in boosting matriculation.

“Many students can’t make it to campus to learn about Brown,” Belcher wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “So we’ve made efforts to go to the students.”