Cornell has a lower percentage of African American students in the Class of 2009 than any other Ivy League school, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education announced last week. In Cornell’s freshman class, 5.6 percent – or 174 of 3,108 students – describe themselves as African American.
But percentages may be misleading as Cornell is the largest Ivy League school and must fill more slots in its freshman class, according to Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment.
“If you look at actual numbers, you’ll see that the number of freshman African American [students] is very impressive,” she said in an e-mail. “In recent years, Cornell has been very successful in the recruitment and enrollment of African American students.”
Last year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions saw a jump in the number of applications from African American students, as well as in the number of African Americans who chose to enroll, which rose 30 percent, according to Davis. The number of admitted African American students also rose to 399, up from 315 last year.
Cornell’s increased enrollment of African American students stems partly from its on-campus recruitment efforts. Earlier this month, over 200 minority students came to the University through Cornell Undergraduate Admission’s Multicultural Visitation Program (MVP), which aims to recruit prospective minority students.
The Alumni-Student Mentoring Program, which pairs up predominately minority students with alumni mentors who serve as role models, has also increased the number of minority applicants. Cornell student leaders of minority organizations said the University has succeeded with recruiting African American students, but can still improve.
Gillian Crowl ’06, co-president of Cornell’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said, “Cornell has done a good job with increasing the number of minority students but we can obviously do better. We need to try harder and use more resources.”
Crowl recommended that current Cornell students should take a bigger part in recruitment, such as visiting their high schools to speak with potential applicants to encourage them to apply.
“As students, we have more of an influence on others applying to Cornell than [the admissions office does] because we were just in high school,” she said. “When I was looking at schools, if [a friend] had told me Cornell was a good place I would have been even more inclined to apply.”
Jeanette Perez ’08, vice president of Cornell University Increasing Multicultural Admissions and Gains in Enrollment (CU Image) feels similarly.
“I know that our efforts are great and that the number of underrepresented minorities has grown thanks to these efforts,” she said. “We host numerous bus trips, day trips, student panels, phone-a-thons and ambassador trips to attract these underrepresented minorities.”
Princeton has the highest percentage of African American freshmen, with 9.4 percent. Following close behind are Harvard, Yale and Columbia with 9.3 percent, 9.2 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively. Dartmouth and Penn each have 7.6 percent, while 6.6 percent of Brown’s freshman class is African American.
Every Ivy League school except for Yale and Brown has seen in increase in enrollment among African Americans in the past year. Princeton has the largest percentage increase, with enrollment increasing 38 percent.
Yale has 122 African American freshmen, the same number as last year. Brown, however, is the only Ivy League school in which the number of African American students in its freshman class has slightly decreased, from 100 last year to 97 this year.
Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer