Four High-Ranking Universities Show a Decline in Black First-Year Enrollments Over the Past Decade

Last week, JBHE reported that over the past decade 23 of the nation’s 27 highest-ranked universities have seen increases in black first-year enrollments.

In the 1998 to 2007 period only four of the nation’s 27 highest-ranked universities showed a decrease in black first-year enrollments. Harvard University was the only Ivy League college to show a decline in black first-year enrollments. Duke University also showed a slight decline. These small decreases are not a major concern in view of the fact that both universities were near the top in black first-year enrollments in both 1998 and 2007.

Northwestern University also showed a small decline.

The largest decline was at the University of Michigan. There, the undergraduate admissions plan, which assigned positive points to black applicants, was declared unconstitutional in the June 2003 Gratz ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the decline in black enrollments had begun even before the Supreme Court’s decision. In 2001 blacks were 9 percent of all incoming freshmen. In 2004 blacks were only 5.8 percent of the first-year class. In 2006 voters in Michigan passed a public referendum that banned all considerations of race in admissions decisions at state universities. In the fall of 2007, 5.6 percent of the incoming class at the University of Michigan was black. But many of these students were admitted before the ban on affirmative action became law. Therefore, black enrollments may decline even further in the years ahead.