Under Race-Neutral Admissions, Black Enrollments Increase at the University of Michigan

When race-sensitive admissions were abolished at the University of California at Berkeley a decade ago, black enrollments plummeted. These enrollments still have not recovered.

It was feared that a similar result would occur in Michigan. In 2006 voters approved a referendum that abolished the use of race in admissions decisions at state universities. Many of the applicants for the fall 2007 entering class were processed before the ban took effect.

As a result, the freshman class in 2008 is the first where all applicants were considered under the new race-neutral procedures. But to the surprise of many observers, black freshman enrollments increased at the University of Michigan this year. There are 374 black first-year students at the university this fall, up from 334 a year ago. This is an increase of nearly 12 percent. The black percentage of the entering class increased from 5.8 percent in 2007 to 6.8 percent this year.

Admissions officials credit the increase in black students to enhanced outreach programs.