Enrollmentof minoritiesrises slightly

Joel Sawyer

The University might be moving closer to accomplishing its goals of increasing minority enrollment, based on a student registration report released Monday.
The University report, which provides official system-wide enrollment data for the fall of 1996, shows a modest increase in minority enrollment since last year and a slight decrease in new students on the Twin Cities campus.
The number of minority students at the University increased from 4,566 to 4,683 in the past year.
“We feel it’s been a very good year. (The incoming class) is the best class, academically, ever at the University,” said Wayne Sigler, director of the office of admissions.
Increasing diversity is just one of the goals of University President Nils Hasselmo’s University 2000 plan. The plan, which surfaced in 1993, is a comprehensive attempt to improve the University experience for students and streamline the institution for the future.
Currently, about 13 percent of students on the Twin Cities campus are minorities. U2000 plans call for an increase in minority enrollment to 16 percent by the year 2000.
But while minority enrollment went up, African Americans saw a slight decrease in enrollment from 1,140 to 1,091 during that same period.
That figure concerns Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for academic affairs. He said it reflects a national trend in lower high school academic performances among black males.
“There is a concern about African-American males graduation rates … the numbers are not increasing as one might expect them to,” Marshak said.
But Marshak said University administrators must focus on long-term goals for diversity rather than on annual enrollment numbers that fluctuate from year to year.
University officials have not had a chance to analyze the enrollment report in any detail, but say they are encouraged by what they’ve seen.
Although new student enrollment at the University is down slightly, overall enrollment has increased. This year there are 37,018 students on campus, as opposed to 36,995 students last year. Ten years ago the University had 44,293 students.
This year’s increase — despite fewer freshmen — can be attributed to retention of undergraduate students and an increase in adult special students who are not working towards a degree, said Darwin Hendel, a senior analyst in the University’s office of Planning and Information Services.
The College of Biological Sciences, the Carlson School of Management and the College of Education and Human Development had in 1995 the largest increases in student enrollment. Carlson’s increase was mainly a result of admitting freshman to the school for the first time this fall.
Hendel said a more detailed enrollment report will be prepared for the Board of Regents when they meet in December. That report, Hendel said, will include a comprehensive demographic breakdown of all students.