University of Minnesota’s freshman class features upswell in diversity

With 5,880 students, the University’s freshman class is the biggest since 1970

University of Minnesota's freshman class features upswell in diversity

Ethan Nelson

More students of color and applicants from outside the Upper Midwest helped shape the University of Minnesota’s class of 2020 — the biggest since 1970, according to recently-released freshmen data.

The class of 5,880 students — which is more diverse than recent years — is part of the University’s effort to increase enrollment in select colleges, said Dean of Undergraduate Education Bob McMaster.

The population of students of color has increased from previous years, making up 22.3 percent at the Twin Cities campus, versus 19.5 percent in 2012.

The University’s share of students from outside Minnesota and reciprocity states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa — has also grown.

“It makes us a bit more than a regional university,” McMaster said. “It makes us more of a national school.”

Fourteen percent of the class of 2020 comes from states that receive reciprocity, a statistic McMaster attributed to a decrease in the Dakotas’ populations and aggressive recruiting by Wisconsin schools.

The school’s goal has been to maintain Minnesota residents at 65 percent, McMaster said. Six percent of freshmen are international students, which the University does not classify as students of color.

Most of the enrollment goals are based on a five-year plan from the Board of Regents, which was last updated in March. The plan calls for slight growth in undergraduate population — especially in STEM fields — and a commitment to ethnic and geographical diversity.

While McMaster said there’s no specific goal in terms of diversity recruiting, he said the school does recruit in high schools with underrepresented populations — like those with students who would be the first in their families to attend college.

“More and more students simply want to come here and study,” McMaster said. “But you can’t grow at an infinite rate.”