The University Record, October 29, 1997
By Julie Peterson
News and Information Services
Fall enrollment at the University--fueled by the largest freshman class ever--reached record levels, according to official student counts released this week.
The University's 5,534 new freshmen represent an increase of 207, or 3.9 percent, over the fall 1996 entering class. Total enrollment is 36,995, a more modest increase of 1.3 percent (470 students) over the previous year. Most of the enrollment gain was among undergraduate students.
"This year's enrollment figures reflect the confidence people in the state and nation have in the University of Michigan's academic programs and its institutional direction," said President Lee C. Bollinger. "This year's freshman class comes to the U niversity with a multitude of interests and talents, and I'm confident their experiences here will prepare them for the intellectual and social challenges they will encounter. I am especially pleased to see that we have again enrolled a diverse class tha t comes to us with a commitment to take on the rigors of academic life."
The incoming freshman class was evenly split between men and women this fall, with 2,762 entering freshmen who are women and 2,772 men. Overall, the student body includes 17,435 women and 19,560 men.
The number of international students grew slightly from 3,200 in 1996 to 3,371, or 9.1 percent of the student body, in 1997. U-M students this fall represent all 50 states and 113 foreign countries.
Overall, enrollment of minority students remained stable with students of color making up 25.4 percent of the student body--the same proportion as last year. Enrollment of Black students dipped slightly, from 2,870 in 1996 to 2,824, or 8.6 percent, t his fall. Enrollment of white students also declined, from 22,826 in 1996 to 22,761 (69.5 percent) in fall 1997. The number of Asian students rose from 3,642 to 3,790 (11.6 percent). Enrollment of Hispanic and American Indian students remained virtuall y unchanged, at 1,473 and 227, respectively.
The number of students whose primary racial identity was unknown grew substantially from 1,326 students last fall to 1,679 (5.1 percent) for 1997. Some of the declines among white and Black students might be accounted for by shifts of these students into the "unknown" category.
Enrollment percentages for various racial groups are calculated using an adjusted total enrollment, which includes only U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Associate Provost Lester Monts, noting declines in enrollment among Black students, particularly at the graduate and professional level, said, "The fluctuations in the 1997 enrollment figures reflect in many ways national trends, but we have always wo rked to overcome these forces and we have generally beensuccessful. We are aware of the areas that require an increased effort on our part and we will adjust our recruiting programs accordingly.
"It is gratifying to see that the majority of our previously enrolled students have returned to the University to complete their degrees," Monts added.
"I certainly hope that the strength of our academic programs and our outspoken commitment to diversity continues to prevail and that recent legal challenges to our admissions policies don't have a damaging impact on our ability to attract and enroll a diverse student body. Similar legal actions in Texas and California resulted in a dramatic downturn in the enrollment of minority students at the major public universities in those states."