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Black enrollment up sharply at CU

BOULDER ” Black enrollment at the University of Colorado is rising amid a concerted recruitment effort, with a 24 percent increase within this year’s freshman class.

“We really increased our focus on recruiting African-American students and making them feel welcome at CU,” Admissions Director Kevin MacLennan said Thursday. “I think it’s paid off.”

The university projects that 102 blacks will be among this year’s freshmen, but they will still be only the fourth-largest ethnic group, after whites, Asians and Hispanics. By another measure, they are the fifth-largest, because the “unknown” category is larger.



Black enrollment in the freshman class fell to 66 in 2004 and 2005, a two-decade low, even though overall minority enrollment increased.

MacLennan said university officials met with black community groups including fraternities, a ministerial alliance and a professional society to discuss ways to increase black enrollment, and then rolled their suggestions into the school’s recruiting.



University President Hank Brown visited black congregations, and current students sent handwritten letters to prospective black students.

School leaders escorted hundreds of potential students and their families to home football games and on campus tours. Admissions counselors met with them one-on-one.

Last fall, the school increased scholarships for minority and first-generation students to $1,500 a year, from $1,000 previously.



CU students also offer campus tours to middle- and high school students, and the school’s outreach center helps guide applicants through the entrance process.

Freshman Shewaga Gebre-Michael of Lakewood is the fourth member of her family to attend CU. She chose the school over others even though her older sister, Mebraht “Mo” Gebre-Michael, got a racist e-mail threatening her with death two years ago when she was a student body president at the university.

Shewaga said she was impressed with the show of campus unity that followed the incident.

“There’s always going to be that ignorant person,” she said. “But I think it turned out to be more positive.”

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