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Report: Higher GPA Requirement Limiting Minority Enrollment at UNLV

Nevada’s two main universities
should postpone making a “B” average the admission standard, said the president
of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas after a new report appeared to find
fewer minorities making the grade for admission.

“UNLV is
committed to quality and we think [the GPA increase] is a long-term part of
UNLV achieving its mission,” president David Ashley said. “However it cannot be
at the disadvantage of any group.”

Ashley said
postponing until 2009 a plan to raise GPA requirements to 3.0, or the
equivalent of a B, would give him and University
of Nevada, Reno,
President Milton Glick time to recruit more minority students.

The number of
students admitted to UNLV declined for every ethnic group, including Whites,
between the fall of 2005 and fall of 2006, according to a Nevada System of
Higher Education report.

Black and
Hispanic students appeared to have been affected the most, with Black
admissions falling 26 percent and Hispanics admissions falling 18 percent.

Hispanic admissions and enrollment also dropped at UNR,
according to the report, which was released Thursday. But Black students
admissions at the campus increased slightly.

increased the admissions requirement in 2006 to an overall GPA of 2.75, up from
2.5, and required students to earn that GPA in 13 core classes of English,
math, natural sciences and social sciences.
starting this fall, students with SAT scores
of 1,040 or higher or composite ACT scores of 22 or higher could gain
admissions without meeting the GPA requirement.

The American
Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and minority leaders protested the GPA increase
when it was suggested in 2001 and again in 2006, when regents advanced the
timetable to implement the second phase in 2008.

They said it
would hurt minority and low-income students.

Chancellor Jim
Rogers and regents agreed at the time to reconsider the decision if data showed
minority students were adversely affected.

ACLU and
minority leaders said after the new report was released that they favored
delaying the second increase by more than a year to give students time to

“We want more
students going to college, not less,” says Hannah Brown, president of the Urban
Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t like to dumb down anything, but I also don’t want
our kids to be excluded from the college experience.”

Neal Smatresk,
the new executive vice president and provost at UNLV, says a lack of
selectivity might encourage Nevada’s
best and brightest students to attend out-of-state universities.

“I think if you
set the bar too low, you put yourself at a competitive disadvantage, and are
attractive to fewer, not more students,” he says.

Among proposals
to boost minority enrollment are plans to partner with the Las Vegas-based Clark
County School District
and to increase need-based aid.

Changes to
eligibility for the Millennium Scholarship may also have been a contributing
factor to the enrollment declines, officials said.

The universities
did not have complete data for fall 2007, or data on how the increase might
have improved retention or graduation rates.

There also was no data on whether students not
admitted to UNLV were enrolling at Nevada State College or the College of Southern

– Associated Press

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