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and Graduation of African-American students at UNC
“The first thing you’ve got to do is look at
where these students come from. Black students
still come primarily from public high schools. In
North Carolina, there hasn’t been a big trend in
the number of black kids who graduate from high
The number of black high school graduates in
N.C. dropped from 19,595 in 1984 to 17,731 in
1987. Approximately48,000white students gradu
ated in 1984 and 50,000 in 1987.
Of the 18,614 black high school graduates in
! 1986, about 2,600 entered the military and about
i 4,000 sought employment immediately after
“You’re not talking about a whole lot of folks
who are making a decision to attend college,” Dr.
Cannon said. “Economics plays a major factor in
The low number of blacks attending college
means that someone has got to go out and entice
these students to come to UNC.
Cracking the Door to Opportunity—
UNC Chapel Hill has developed several pro
grams designed to attract minortiy students, es
pecially African and Native Americans. Recruit
ment seems to be an area that is working well or
at least appears that way.
Still, some black faculty members on campus
see UNC-CH’s recruitment as a problem. Dr. J.
Lee Greene, associate professor of English, saki
the University does not seek out the most tal
ented black student in the state.
“UNC doesn’t effectively recruit the top black
students or the most outstanding students in the
state. This University doesn’t do the kinds of
things that would allow it to compete with other
univerisities for students. Schools such as Duke
lend to offer students a better overall package
deal than Cardina.”
Dr. Robert Cannon agreed.
“I think the University felt the need to get in a
certain amount of minority students. When you
bring students in only to keep numbers up, then
you’re doing them a disservice.”
Archie Ervin, assistant to the vice chancellor
for university affairs, organizes several reauit-
ment programs at UNC-CH. Ervin is director of
Project Uplift, a program designed to attract tal
ented black students to UNC-CH. Rising high
school seniors are invited to stay at the University
for one weekend during the summer.
A number of students who attended Project
Uplift actually enrolled as freshmen at UNC-CH
for the past year. During Project Uplift 1989,780
students attended the four-week program. Forty
percent of those students were ranked in the top
15 percent of their classes. Of the 241 Project
Uplift students who applied to the Unversity, 209
were accepted. Of the 209 accepted, 129 are
enrolled as freshmen for fall 1990.
Ervin also works with National Honors Day, a
program which targets black students to encour
age them to attend UNC-CH. Black high school
students are chosen from among those who at
tended Project Uplift to come to UNC-CH in the
fall of each year.
“By this time we have narrowed down the
prospect pool to that group of students who have
the best chance of being accepted,” Ervin saki.
“These are students who were first identified as
being academically gifted at the end of their
In the Fall of 1989,70 students attended High
School Honors Day. Fifty-three of the 70 applied
to the University, and 49 of those were accepted.
Forty of those accepted for the fall semester ib
The statistics on recniitment programs are
encouraging to Archie Ervin.
“We’re doing the job of recmiting at the under
graduate level,” Archie Ervin said. “One of the
problems we still face is that we’re way down in
tenns of the number of black students interested
in this university.”
Opening the door of opportunity^
Enrollment/Choice of Major
Since 1985, the number of black students
applying to the University has increased. In 1985,
750 black students applied to UNC-CH; however,
that number inaeased to 1,281 in 1989. Although
the University accepted 646 black applicants,
only 400 of them actually enrolled in 1989. Still,
blacks increased in the freshmen class from
approximately 10 percent in 1985 to 12 percent in
The majority of black undergraduate students
at UNC-CH remain in the College of Arts and Sci
ences for their entire four years. During the fresh
men and sophmae years, students take courses
in General College, but they have the opUon of
transferring to a professional school at the end of
their sophmore year.
The College of Arts and Sciences houses all of
the undergraduate programs in humanities, lib
eral arts and natural or mathmatical sciences. As
of Spring 1990, there were 5,175 students in the
College of Arts and Sciences, 1,183 of whom were
Dean Fuse-Hall gave one explaination for the
large amount of black students in the College of
Arts and Sciences.
“Since most of them are not prepared from
high school for the demands of collegiate rigor,
they can’t meet the requisite grade point averages
for professional schools so they end up choosing
majors in the arts and sciences.”
Numbers confirm that few black students trans
fer into professional schools at the University to
complete their undergraduate degrees. The Divi
sion of Health Affairs contains the School of
Public Health, the School of Nursing and School
of Pharmacy. As of Spring 1990, there were 10
blacks in the School of Public Health and l6 in
the School of Nursing.
The Division of Academk; Affairs contains the
Sdiool of Journalism, School of Education and
the School of Business Administratton. There are
22 black undergraduate students in the School of
Education and 36 in the School of Journalism.
The Journalism School has made a strong
committment to reauit minority students, saki
Dulcie Straughan, assistant professor of journal
ism. Straughan researched the portion of the
school’s accreditation report that dealt with
“It is evklent that a lot of the minority students
aren’t interested in it (journalism) because it is
not a lucrative field,” Straughan said. “Journalism
isn’t consklered one of the bread winner profes
sions. We’re trying to change that by getting
involved in more of the programs designed to
attract minority students to this campus.”
Raising admission requirements may contrib
ute to the small percentages of blacks in the
professfonal schools. The Journalism School
requires a 2.4 grade point average, while the
Business School requires a 3.0 for undergraduate
admission. Both schools have been ranked as
twoofthe best professional schools in the United
“You have to have a standard by which to
weed people out,” Dean Fuse-Hall said. “Every
body is not going to get into the professional
schools. However, raising admissions require
ments has a negative impact on people of color
because there are so few of them to begin with.”
The University can recmit blacks and half
way enroll them, but what happens once they
Editors’Note: "'We're Gonna Make It’- The Reten
tion, Recruitment and Graduation of African-
American students at UNC" will be completed in
the October 9 issue o/Black Ink.
Debbie Baker is a senior joumalism/pre-
law major from Raeford, N.C