AP NEWS

Data: Minnesota’s 2019 freshman class sees record diversity

October 30, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota’s 2019 freshman class is the biggest in 50 years and includes a female majority and the most students of color in the school’s history.

The Office of Institutional Research’s numbers show that most of the freshmen — about 54% — are women and less than 46% are men, a difference of more than 500 students, the Minnesota Daily reported Wednesday.

“We find that, on balance, women have stronger academic credentials coming out of high school,” said Bob McMaster, vice provost and dean of the Office of Undergraduate Education. “You see that reflected in our data, you see that reflected nationally.”

When the school tracks student demographics, it groups international students and those who did not provide a race on their application with white students.

Students of color make up over a quarter of this year’s freshman class. In 2010, they made up 18% of the university’s freshmen.

McMaster noted the rise can be partly attributed to changes in Minnesota high schools, which have seen demographic shifts in recent years. He added that the Office of Admissions has been “extremely aggressive at reaching out to schools where we know we have high percentages of students of color.”

Still, the number of black students at the university remains relatively small. About 5% of new students are black, up slightly from more than 4% a decade ago.

Regent Mike Kenyanya said he believes several things contribute to the underrepresentation of black students on campus, including a noticeable achievement gap in Minnesota, poor campus climate surveys and systematic historical barriers.

“There is a history of higher-ed, including this institution, keeping black folks out of the classroom,” Kenyanya said via email. “If your parents were systematically kept out of college, they’re not equipped to help you navigate the confusing collegiate landscape.”

The numbers may be low, but Kenyanya noted the effort to increase them cannot be ignored, highlighting programs they have established with young students.

While the number of freshman students who are Greater Minnesota residents has remained the same, the percentage of the class they make up has dropped in the past decade as the overall population has grown.

McMaster sees maintaining the number of rural students as a victory considering rural population declines. He noted the school has specific scholarships for Minnesota residents from outside the metro area aiming to uphold these numbers.

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Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/