KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some major public colleges in Missouri and Kansas say a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action won’t affect their efforts to recruit minority students because race already is not a factor in admission standards.
However, increasing diversity on campus by recruiting more minorities remains an important goal, according to officials at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.
The Supreme Court ruling in June didn’t forbid considering race in admission but said schools must prove there are “no race-neutral alternatives” to achieve diversity on campus.
“I think that any public research institution that is using race as a factor in admissions needs to go back and review what they are doing,” said Mel Tyler, vice chancellor of student affairs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “There are plenty of qualified minority students out there. … Race should not be a factor.”
Generally, students who meet basic criteria for admission at the schools will get in, The Kansas City Star reported.
In Kansas, the requirements are at least a 2.0 grade point average, a 21 ACT score or rank in the top third of a graduating class. In Missouri, residents who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class and meet the 17 core curriculum requirements can get in regardless of standardized test score. But the lower the class rank, the higher the test score needed for admission.
The schools generally encourage minority students to apply and then allow all applicants who meet the criteria to enroll. Changing demographics make those efforts important. By 2030, Missouri and Kansas students now considered a minority will make up 50 percent of the population, Tyler said.
Pat Bosco, vice president for student life and dean of students at Kansas State University, said the Manhattan school concentrates on recruitment, rather than selection. The university recruits students in areas with large populations of first-generation and minority students, then offers them financial assistance and academic support to help them graduate.
“K-State is an output school, not an input school,” Bosco said. “We are not spending time on selection, but we are spending time showing students how they can be successful once they get here. We don’t just throw them in the pond and hope they swim.”
The University of Kansas also coordinates several recruitment events each year to target minority students, said office director Lisa Pinamonti Kress, and has a team of current students who write, call and meet prospective students.
At the University of Missouri-Columbia, admissions director Barbara Rupp said improved recruitment has led to increased minority enrollment in the past 10 years including looking for qualified students in Kansas City, St. Louis and out of state, particularly in Chicago.
First-time black freshmen on the Columbia campus increased from 209 in 2002, or 5.6 percent of the student body, to 657 last year, more than 8 percent of the student body. The number of new Hispanic freshmen increased from 70 in 2002 to 232 in 2012.
At Kansas State, the number of minority student applicants has increased from 918 in 2007 to 1,554 in 2012. And at Missouri-Kansas City, enrollment of black, American Indian, Asian and Hispanic students has increased 77.5 percent increase in the last 10 years, Tyler said.