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Nov. 3, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 5

BC Excelling in AHANA Enrollment

University ranks among best in national study on minority equity

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Boston College has become one of the leading national universities in offering educational opportunities to AHANA students, according to a recent study assessing minority enrollment in American higher education.

The study, "Minority Undergraduate Enrollments at Leading Public and Private Colleges and Universities," was undertaken by the Mortenson Research Seminar on Public Policy Analysis of Opportunity for Postsecondary Education, and published in their newsletter Postsecondary Education Opportunity. In addition to comparing overall enrollment rates for 18 to 24-year-olds by race and ethnicity, the study focused on the African American, Latino and Native American populations - referred to as "underrepresented minorities" - in several categories of colleges and universities.

BC ranked prominently in analyses of institutions included in the US News top 50 national universities. Between 1992 and 2002, BC recorded the 10th biggest increase (3.1 percent) in the share of underrepresented minorities, compared to an overall 0.4 percent gain among all entries in the US News "best national universities" category.

The Opportunity study also showed BC had the ninth largest Underrepresented Minority Equity Index - defined as the ratio of an institution's share of underrepresented minority undergraduates to that of its host state - among the US News top 50, at 87 percent, in 2002.

Noting that BC and the other high-ranking universities in this category, which included Dartmouth (1), MIT (2), Tufts (3), Harvard (4) and Notre Dame (6), are located in northern states with relatively small underrepresented minority populations, the study said, "Nevertheless in their states they are leading on issues of demographic change."

Among all US News top 50 universities, the study found BC ranked 34th in underrepresented minorities share of undergraduates, at 11.1 percent.

While gratified by the results of the Opportunity study, Boston College enrollment administrators say they are not particularly surprised since the findings corroborate their own data, which indicates even more positive trends.

More importantly, they say, the study affirms the success of BC's efforts to offer educational opportunities to AHANA students.

"Obviously, this kind of recognition from such a scholarly journal represents tremendous validation for Boston College's recruitment and enrollment of AHANA students over the past decade," said Undergraduate Admission Director John L. Mahoney. "With the population of 18-year-old AHANA students rising so dramatically at this time, particularly Latino and Hispanic students, Boston College has established itself as an attractive destination for future AHANA students.

"We know prospective AHANA students want to 'see' diversity on college campuses, not just hear statistics, and I think the diversity is visible on a daily basis here."

Dean for Enrollment Management Robert Lay said, "It's important to note that there has been no compromise between our desire to provide more educational opportunities for underrepresented minorities, and our desire to attract students of high academic quality. We have done both."

Lay said statistics collected subsequently to the period surveyed in the Opportunity study show continued growth in enrollment of AHANA students: The percentage of underrepresented minorities among undergraduates rose to 13 last year, which translates to a 5 percentage point increase since 1992.

Adding the numbers of Asian American students, BC's undergraduate population is nearly one-quarter AHANA, he added. In addition, 26 percent of the current freshman class is AHANA, with 16 percent in the underrepresented-minority category as defined by Opportunity.

"By no means are we resting on our laurels," said Lay, "but BC is well-positioned to maintain a diverse University community."

Mahoney credited the Admission staff for their role in recruiting AHANA students, in part by seeking ties with high schools with large AHANA populations. He cited the work of staff members such as Associate Director for AHANA Student Recruitment Paul Bonitto, who he said has forged a close relationship with Boston public schools and speaks with AHANA students and families visiting campus.

BC also has made connections to agencies that seek increased educational opportunities for AHANA students as well as economically disadvantaged students, including Prep for Prep and A Better Chance in New York City and similar organizations in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

"The secret to our success at Boston College, however," said Mahoney, "is that AHANA student recruitment is everybody's job, and it does not just fall to AHANA staff members."

Despite the efforts of institutions such as BC, Opportunity painted a less-than-encouraging picture of racial and ethnic minorities' enrollment in colleges and universities. While the minority share of high school graduates has grown from 7 percent in 1960 to 30 percent today, and projects to 45 percent in 2018, Opportunity said its study showed a decrease in underrepresented minorities between 1992-2002 at "leading" universities and colleges.

"Our 'leading' universities and colleges have actually turned away from enrolling these rapidly growing shares of our country's future workers, parents and citizens," the report said.

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