NEWS RELEASE, 08/17/98
University of California, Berkeley's law school
announces major increase in incoming minority students over last year's
By Lujuana Treadwell, School of Law, Boalt Hall
BERKELEY -- The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall) announced today (Mon., Aug. 17) that its 1998 entering class includes a major increase in minority students over its 1997 entering class. The 1997 class was the first admitted after new University of California admissions policies prohibited the use of affirmative action.
Boalt Hall Dean Herma Hill Kay described this increase as "significant" and expressed her gratitude for the determined efforts of the many people - faculty, students, alumni, administrators, bar associations and law firms - who made it possible.
"While these results are gratifying," said Kay, "they are still below the level of traditionally underrepresented minority students enrolled at Boalt prior to 1997. We remain committed to continue a vigorous recruitment policy that can produce the diverse student body needed for a vibrant legal education consistent with existing university policy and applicable law."
This year Boalt Hall admitted 857 of its 4,587 applicants in order to yield a class of 275. Of those who begin the study of law at Berkeley today, 85 are members of minority groups as compared to 62 minority students in last year's entering class. Virtually all of the increase is among students from traditionally underrepresented groups.
Comparison of Minority Enrollment
1998 First Year Students 1997 First Year Students*
Asian 33 32 (5 defers)
Asian Subgroups 17 15 (1 defer)
African American 9 1 (1 defer)
Chicano 16 6 (3 defers)
Latino 8 8 (4 defers)
Native American 2 0
* This table includes students who were admitted in 1996 under the former admissions policy (which included affirmative action) and deferred their enrollment to 1997.
One additional African American student admitted for fall 1998 deferred enrollment to 1999.
The increase in racial and ethnic diversity results in part from a series of changes in Boalt Hall's admissions policy made by the faculty and admissions office to ensure that each applicant 's full range of qualifications is considered. It also results in part from expanded efforts on the part of the law school and the private bar to persuade admitted students to enroll.
The admissions policy changes included:
o Increasing the pool of applicants from which the faculty admissions committee made its selections;
o Reporting the results of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to committee members in score bands to reflect the standard error of measurement and alert admissions committee members that one-, two- or three-point differences between students are not significant;
o No longer grouping applicant files according to index scores [made up of the LSAT score and undergraduate grade point average (UGPA)], thus eliminating sharp cut-off points between applicants;
o Allowing applicants with somewhat lower LSAT scores to demonstrate that their excellent academic performance in college was not accurately predicted by their SAT scores;
o Discontinuing the use of a formula previously used to weigh undergraduate grade point averages according to the institution attended and instead allowing admissions committee members to make their own evaluations.
"These changes, while relatively modest, were very important," said Kay. "They helped dispel the false public impression that Boalt Hall is hostile to minority candidates, permitted the director of admissions to exercise wider discretion in admitting applicants than he had done in prior years and allowed the admissions committee to focus more than in prior years on non-numerical qualifications as well as numerical indicators."
Once the students had been admitted, Boalt Hall undertook aggressive and expanded efforts to persuade them to enroll. These efforts included:
o Joining with alumni to host receptions around the country for all admitted students;
o Inviting admitted students to visit Boalt Hall, where they were greeted by current students and given individualized tours of the school, attended classes and met faculty members;
o Producing and distributing an eight-minute video entitled "Welcome to Boalt Hall" featuring Boalt Hall students, faculty and alumni (funded by a gift from Sun Micro Systems and a one-time recruitment allowance from the University of California Office of the President);
o Phone calls by faculty, students, staff and administrators to many of the admitted students, both minority and non-minority, encouraging them to enroll at Boalt Hall.
In addition, Boalt Hall students and alumni independently sponsored a spring visit to Boalt Hall for minority admits, and the Boalt Hall Alumni Association funded student outreach efforts to prospective applicants.
Kay especially thanked the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Wiley Manuel Law Foundation, both of which created private, independently funded scholarship programs to support minority students who had been admitted to Bay Area law schools, including Boalt Hall.
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