Class of 2017 reaches 20 percent minority


    When he arrived here in 2000, Dean of Admission Ray Brown expected that 20 percent of the university's first-year students would be of a minority demographic by 2005.

    When the 2013-2014 academic year started, that mark was finally hit.

    But Brown is not exactly excited.

    “I can’t jump up and down about this,” he said. “One of the most maddening things about college admissions is that no two years are alike.”

    Brown said that more than 380 of the 1,935 first-year students are racial minorities. At least 100 of those students are African-Americans and at least 218 are Hispanic, he said.

    However, the true number of minority students is most likely larger; Brown said that 66 students did not indicate their race on their application for admission.

    Brown said while each new pool of applicants is unique, he is not certain what made this incoming class different. 

    “I wish I could tell you that there was one thing that seemed to work,” Brown said, “but we have tried for years to attract students of color on local, state and national levels.”

    According to Chancellor Victor Boschini, the university’s increasing popularity allows the Office of Admission to be more selective with applicants. 

    “The applicant pool has become so large that it allows us to accept more students from minority groups than ever before,” Boschini said.

    According to Brown, Boschini’s predecessor Michael Ferrari spearheaded a significant push to make the university more diverse during his tenure from 1998 and 2003 .

    “His primary goal was to change the face of what was, at that time, a very white university,” Brown said.

    Cornell Thomas, now a professor in the College of Education, served as Ferrari’s special assistant for diversity and culture. The two started the Community Scholars program to reach out to minority students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    “It was a starting point to bring diverse perspectives to the campus and student body and to embrace the entire TCU community,” Thomas said. “That was part of my responsibility, to reach out to parts of our community that we had not reached out to.”

    Administrators said they want to achieve diversity in its broadest sense.

    “When I talk about diversity, I mean race, gender, religious and economic backgrounds, those kinds of things,” Thomas said. “We should be striving to educate our young people that everybody is diverse.”

    First-year biology major Brianna Bickham, who is African-American, comes from a high school that was almost equally made up of Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic students. Because of this, she said she can attest to the benefits of a diverse environment.

    “I think it would be cool to have a good split at TCU,” Bickham said. “You get to see how different people live and what their beliefs are.”

    Brown said he does not know what the ideal demographic distribution would be for the university, but that when we get there, it will be apparent.

    “I’m hopeful that by the time I retire, diversity isn't even going to be an issue,” he said.