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ACE Report: Minority College Enrollment Climbs, but Gaps Persist

ACE Report: Minority College Enrollment Climbs, but Gaps Persist
The number of minority full-time faculty also increases while minority college presidencies see minimal growth

Students of color continue to make significant gains in college enrollment, but still lag behind their White counterparts in the rates at which they pursue a higher education, according to the “Minorities in Higher Education Twenty-First Annual Status Report (2003-2004)” released recently by the American Council on Education (ACE).

The report finds that from 1991 to 2001, college enrollment of minorities rose by nearly 1.5 million students (52 percent) to more than 4.3 million. Even with this progress, African Americans and Hispanics were not enrolled at the same rate as their White peers. Forty percent of African Americans and 34 percent of Hispanics attended college, compared with 45 percent of Whites.

Unlike minority groups, where the 18- to 24-year-old population increased during the 1990s, the number of Whites in this age group declined. As a result, there was a corresponding reduction in enrollment of Whites from 10.6 million in 1991 to 10.1 million in 2001. The White enrollment decline, combined with significant gains by minorities, was not sufficient to eliminate the large and continuing gap in enrollment rates between Whites and minorities.

“These persistent gaps in college participation among Whites and minorities tell us that we must be more creative and imaginative in developing strategies and finding additional resources so that more students of color are successful on our campuses,” says report co-author Dr. William B.

Harvey, ACE vice president and director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity (formerly the Office of Minorities in Higher Education). “The long-term economic and social well being of this country is connected to closing this gap.”

The report, made possible by grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation and the GE Foundation, is widely recognized as the national source of information on current trends on advances made by students of color in higher education. The report summarizes high-school completion and college participation rates, college enrollments, educational attainment, degrees conferred and higher education employment.

Among the report’s key findings:

• College enrollment among African Americans grew to nearly 1.8 million students between 1991 and 2001, a 37 percent increase.

• Hispanic enrollment led all racial/ethnic groups, up 75 percent to more than 1.4 million students. The largest growth occurred at two-year institutions where Hispanic enrollment grew by 82 percent, compared with a 68 percent increase at four-year institutions.

• Minority full-time college and university faculty members increased from 65,000 positions in 1993 to more than 90,000 positions in 2001, an increase of 40 percent.

• Minority college presidencies have increased from 12.1 percent in 1994 to only 14 percent in 2004.

“Diversifying the nation’s higher education institutions continues to be one of the most important challenges facing our society,” said ACE President David Ward. “The data illustrate how far we’ve come in our quest for educational excellence for all students, but they also caution us that equity in education for all Americans remains a goal that we must strive to reach.”  

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