Georgetown’s boasts of a diverse and multicultural campus were validated when a recent study ranked the university No.11 in enrollment of African-American students.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has recently released its 10th annual survey on African-American college enrollment. The purpose of the survey, which traces the progress of African-American student acceptance and enrollment at 25 of the most prestigious colleges in the country, is to serve as a “yardstick to measure commitment to racial outreach,” and also to either support or deny claims for the necessity of affirmative action programs in the college admissions process.

Georgetown tied with Columbia University, ranking No. 11 with 7 percent of the entering freshman class being comprised of African Americans. Of 1,156 black applicants this year, 320 were accepted and 104 enrolled.

The survey is compiled based on university-issued statistics for the fall 2002 term. It ranked the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill first for its percentage of black students in this year’s freshman class, with 12.5 percent of this class being of African-American descent. Stanford University came in second, with 11.6 percent of its incoming class being African American, while Duke, with a 10.4 percent black population, is ranked in third place.

Assistant Director of Admissions John Nagle (COL ’00) explained some of the strategies employed by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to ensure diversity in the Georgetown community, saying the process of identifying potential applicants begins during the student’s junior year of high school.

“Special searches are done specifically for students of color – we have an African American search and a Hispanic search, which basically just uses PSAT data and helps us to identify very high achievers,” Nagle said.

The Community Scholars Program is done in conjunction with the Center for Minority and Educational Affairs and is one outlet geared at incorporating high-achieving minority students into the Georgetown community. Another program, Hoya Saxa Weekend, aims at identifying the strongest minority applicants to a glimpse of Georgetown life.

Nagle said because of programs like these and because of Georgetown’s financially need-blind admission policy, the university is able to attract strong minority candidates to add to the diversity of the student body. “Georgetown is a community that values the idea of having people from different backgrounds . we are trying to educate future leaders and in order to do that, you really need to reach out to those communities that have not been traditionally a part of our pool,” Nagle said.

CMEA Director Dennis A.Williams said Georgetown has boasting rights when it comes to minority enrollment. “I wouldn’t even compare [our diversity] with other schools . because I think that Georgetown should be better than all of the other schools – because of our location in Washington, D.C., and because I have heard Georgetown officials brag, rightfully, that we have one of the strongest pools of black applicants – we’ve already gotten the interest,” Williams said.

Williams said Georgetown attracts a strong minority applicant pool with seemingly little effort. He said Georgetown has had an advantage of being able to attract African American students over the last 15 years, but it may be in the process of losing it.

“[Because of the basketball team] there are a lot of black people in the country that think Georgetown is a black college. That’s not true of Duke or Harvard . we have been comfortable in our success. There are black people around the country who recognize the name Georgetown, without Georgetown really having to work to create that recognition,” Williams said.

He said he saw a problem, however, with depending too much on this mode of advertisement. “That works for a while, but sooner or later you’ve got to put some effort into maintaining and increasing that familiarity. And that is the problem – most of our competitors have caught up in increasing the name recognition of their institution, and I don’t think that we have done much to respond,” he said.

Nagle said an active recruitment of a diverse student body is essential to Georgetown. “[Diversity on campus] is an issue that some schools came to earlier and some schools came to later, but at this point virtually every top university in the country is competing to get the very strong students from minority backgrounds. While there are more and more students overall, it is still a very small group that’s at the top and we all want the piece of that pie,” Nagle said.

Continued advancements in the development of the interdisciplinary African American Studies program, with a continued student interest and with alumni financial backing, may also help to further diversify both the Georgetown curriculum and its student body. Many feel the program is long overdue.

“More academic diversity, more diversity in the faculty and more opportunities to connect with alumni . are the three things structurally that can have the most significant impact on student life,” Williams said.

Williams said the university should also strive for economic diversity in the student body. “I think that we could use more [socio-economic] diversity in the white population as well – this could be achieved through financial aid,” he said.

The survey also evaluated fluctuations in black student acceptance rates. Georgetown had no change in the number of black students enrolled when comparing 2002 numbers to 2001 acceptance rates.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.