U.Va. Leads Nation's Top Universities in Percentage of First-Year Black Students

January 17, 2008 — Black students made up 11.4 percent of this year's entering class at the University of Virginia, tying Columbia University for first place among the nation's top-rated universities in a ranking published by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education this month.

The universities included in the journal's survey were drawn from U.S. News & World Report magazine's annual rankings.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (11.1 percent) ranked a close third. Vanderbilt University (10.3 percent) was fourth.

In actual numbers, the journal reported that U.Va.'s first-year class includes 360 African-American students out of a total of 3,248 students. That number — representing a 38 percent increase from the previous class — is second- highest of the 29 schools listed in the ranking.

U.Va. officials were happy to see the University's commitment to diversity recognized.

"One of the goals of the University is to enroll a diverse student body, and our staff works hard at achieving that each year," said Dean of Admission Jack Blackburn.

"Our long-term history, published in this same journal, shows that we have produced the highest graduation rate of African-Americans among all public universities for the past 13 years," he said.

Maurice Apprey, dean of U.Va.'s Office of African-American Affairs, said, "The commitment of the University remains strong, and like all universities, we must continue to compete for outstanding high school graduates who will one day become the leaders of our states and our nation.

"The admissions process invariably struggles with the tension between access and choosing students who can contribute to our learning community and succeed academically," he added. "It is a necessary tension that must not be resolved too easily in one direction or another."

Both mentioned that the percentage of African-American students might vary from year to year because of other contingencies, even the popularity of a certain school in a certain year. In 2007, 50 percent of African-Americans offered admission to U.Va. accepted the offer.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has published the survey and analysis of black freshmen enrollment for 15 years. See www.jbhe.com/features/57_freshmen.html.