Banner Year for Black Students at Cornell University

JBHE has learned that there are 259 African-American students in the freshman class at Cornell University this fall. This is a whopping 82 percent increase from a year ago. Blacks make up 8 percent of the first-year class. In 2008 blacks were 4.5 percent of incoming freshmen. This year the number of black applicants, accepted black students, and the black student yield all increased significantly.

Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment at Cornell, told JBHE, “We reassessed our admissions selection process so that an even greater emphasis was placed on the holistic reading process rather than on standardized test scores.” This approach tended to boost black acceptance rates. But Davis also believes that Cornell’s “refocusing of financial aid on low- and moderate-income students and families has helped us to enroll more African-American students.”

Davis told JBHE that reliable institutional data on the ethnicity of particular classes goes back to 1982. But looking over figures even for prior years, she concludes, “It is very likely that the Class of 2013 has the largest number of black students in Cornell’s history.”