Eugene Scott, The Arizona Republic
October 24, 2005
Section: VALLEY & State, Page: B5

*Article reprinted with permission from the Arizona Republic.*

Twenty years ago, Arizona State University 's minority enrollment was slightly more than 4,000. But with the university's current emphasis on educating more Arizonans and increasing diversity, that number has more than tripled. More than 13,800 minority students are enrolled at ASU, making the current student body the most diverse in university history. Minority students make up 26 percent of the current freshman class.

The number of minority students enrolling in Barrett Honors College has also increased.

James Rund, vice president of university undergraduate initiatives, said the growth is linked to the aggressive recruitment of the state's minority applicants.

"The primary mission of a public university is to enroll the demographic of the state," he said. "We've worked hard and made an extra effort for students that have been underrepresented at the university and to ensure that once students arrive that they are successful."

Some of those efforts include offering more attractive scholarship packages to academically gifted minority students. National Hispanic Scholars and National Achievement Scholars -- African-American students who received top scores on the PSAT -- now receive the same scholarship package as National Merit Scholars.

These and other attractive packages have proved to be effective, Rund said. This year's minority student enrollment increased by more than 20 percent. The greatest increase was among Native American students -- 16 percent. "ASU currently enrolls 50 percent of the college-eligible students interested in attending one of the three Arizona state universities," he said.

A factor contributing to ASU's increased popularity among minority students is the growing minority population in Phoenix , but Rund said he hopes recent improvements at the university have added to its appeal.

"We'd like to think that it has much to do with our increasing quality and stature as an institution," he said.

University officials said ASU is doing something many universities have struggled with -- becoming bigger, more diverse and better at the same time. With some of the country's largest numbers of both National Hispanic and National Merit Scholars, ASU has become a top choice for national scholars, minority and White.

The university has not had as much success in enrolling qualified African-American students as it would like, partly because of Arizona's small African-American populations, but Rund said progress is being made in that area. The university has five National Achievement Scholars enrolled.

Mark Jacobs, dean of the Barrett Honors College , said the number of minority students enrolling in the college has increased by 7 percent since 2003 to more than 22 percent. In the past two years, he has begun relationships with schools in metropolitan areas with large minority populations that are underrepresented in the college to encourage academically gifted minorities to enroll at ASU.

"Diversity is extremely important to us," he said. "And it's not going to do us any good to sit outside and say, 'I wonder why so many students of color aren't coming to ASU.' "

In 2002, the honors college enrolled 50 National Hispanic Scholars. Today, more than 100 are honors college students at the university.

While targeting minority students outside of Arizona is a focus, Rund said ASU is constantly exploring new ways to better educate the state minorities and thus improve the university community as a whole.

"Given the changing demographics in this state in the next 10 years, students of color will be in the majority. That is our future. We know who our students are and who they are becoming. Our intent is to enroll Arizona ," he said.

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