UC Berkeley to step up recruitment in effort to increase underrepresented minority applicant numbers

By Jesus Mena, Public Affairs

Berkeley -- Prompted by a decline in the number of freshman applications for fall 1999 from underrepresented minorities, University of California, Berkeley, officials said today that they will intensify their efforts to recruit minority applicants in the coming year.

Among California residents applying for admission, the number of African American applicants declined from 1,073 for fall 1998 to 959 for fall 1999 (a 10.6 percent decline). Chicano applicants dropped from 2,117 last year to 1,794 (a 15.3 percent reduction).

"The numbers leave us unequivocally dissatisfied," said Genaro Padilla, UC Berkeley vice chancellor for undergraduate affairs. "We must do more.

"We are reassessing our recruitment strategy in order to improve long-term application rates," he said. "This past fall we increased our recruitment efforts, but apparently those aggressive campaigns were not sufficient."

Padilla stressed that diversity remains of paramount importance to UC Berkeley. "We need to get the message to students, parents, principals, counselors and community leaders that Berkeley is giving minority applicants every opportunity it can to get in the door and succeed," he said.

Bob Laird, director of undergraduate admissions and relations with schools, said his office for the first time in November conducted receptions in Southern California that were targeted at African American and Chicano applicants. The Southern California staff also placed more emphasis on community college outreach.

Laird said that the percentage of underrepresented minority freshman applicants fluctuates from year to year on the campus.

Laird pointed out that underrepresented minorities continue to apply to UC Berkeley in relatively large numbers. Nearly half of the African Americans who apply to the UC system make UC Berkeley their choice. Nearly one-third of Chicanos who apply to the nine-campus system do the same. UC Berkeley is the second most popular UC campus for African Americans.

The total number of applications for spots in the fall 1999 freshman class at UC Berkeley are up 4.1 percent from last year.

Overall, 30,303 individuals applied for freshman admission for the fall 1999 semester - an increase from 29,114 applications for fall 1998. Of the total applicant pool, 23,811 applicants were California residents.

Of the California residents, there were 716 Latino applicants, down from 739 in fall 1998 (a 3.1 percent decline). There were 122 American Indian applicants, down from 143 (a 14.7 percent drop) the previous year.

Other application statistics announced today show that the number of students applying for transfer to UC Berkeley from other colleges and universities rose to 7,494 - up 10.2 percent from 1998 when the campus had 6,801 transfer applicants. Of that total, 5,082 applicants are United States residents from California community colleges. The percentage of underrepresented minorities in that transfer pool increased over last year.

Of the fall 1999 California resident freshman applicant pool, 39.7 percent, or 9,454 applicants, listed their ethnicity as white or other (an increase of 18.8 percent from fall 1998). Asian Americans constituted 32.2 percent of the pool, or 7,664 applicants (a rise of 9.9 percent). Filipino Americans, counted separately, were 4.6 percent of the total, numbering 1,086 (a 10.7 percent increase). African American applicants made up 4.0 percent of the pool, Chicanos were 7.5 percent, Latinos 3.0 percent and American Indians 0.5 percent.

Applicants who declined to state their ethnicity constituted 8.5 percent of the total, or 2,016 (a decline of 40.7 percent). It is likely that the increase in white and Asian American applicants is tied to the sharp percent drop in the number of students who declined to state their ethnicity.

Laird said the applications next will be read at least twice in the next few months. Letters informing applicants of their admission to UC Berkeley will be mailed at the end March.

"Once the admit numbers are determined," said Laird, "this campus will undertake a very aggressive effort to ensure that every possible underrepresented admitted applicant ultimately chooses Berkeley as the place to study."

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