More black and Hispanic students enrolled at LSU this fall than at any other time in school history, an achievement the university credits to an expanded recruiting effort.
This fall’s black student enrollment of 3,054 students just barely eclipses the previous high of 3,035 set in 2002 but represents a 200-student increase over last year, according to LSU’s Office of Budget and Planning. LSU also saw Hispanic enrollment rise by 156 students this fall, increasing from 1,305 students compared with the previous high of 1,149 set last year.
LSU System President and Baton Rouge campus Chancellor William Jenkins framed those numbers in terms of expanding student access — one of the more popular concepts being discussed in higher education circles over the past several years.
“LSU is accomplishing the greater goal of reaching more of our state’s citizens,” Jenkins said.
David Kurpius, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, said part of the minority gains can be attributed to LSU’s strategy to place a recruiter in New Orleans.
“She spent a lot of times in high-performing, high-minority schools,” Kurpius said. “And she’s really good at her job.”
LSU also expanded its recruiting base in Texas, making serious efforts in Dallas and Houston, Kurpius said. “So what we’ve done is get a group of new, energetic people together to help with our enrollment. We’re excited to see more gains next year,” Kurpius said.
Katrice Albert, vice provost of LSU’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach, added in a statement that strengthening the intellectual environment partly through gains in cultural diversity is a significant component of LSU’s Flagship 2020 plan.
LSU’s increased minority enrollment also comes just a little over a year after the university awarded an honorary doctorate to the man who broke the school’s color barrier nearly 60 years ago. A.P. Tureaud Jr. enrolled at LSU in 1953 with the help of a court order but under intense community opposition.
Alexander Pierre Tureaud Jr. was an LSU student for less than two months before the university won a court appeal and kicked him out.
Although the decision was later overturned, Tureaud opted to attend Xavier University in New Orleans after enduring death threats from students and alienation from professors.
But his fight with the university in court opened the doors for black students to attend.
The end of that fight has given way to other struggles as colleges across Louisiana have maneuvered to adjust their strategies in an era of declining state revenues and the corresponding budget cuts that follow.
The state’s higher education master plan released last year specifically emphasizes Louisiana’s need to increase the educational attainment of adults to the Southern regional average by 2025.
In order to reach that mark, Louisiana must produce about 5 percent more bachelor’s degrees annually and 9 percent more associate degrees, certificates and diplomas.
LSU appears to be doing well in increasing access to minorities and to students overall. The minority student enrollment numbers come on the heels of an earlier announcement that the 5,725 freshmen who signed up for classes on the Baton Rouge campus this fall surpassed the previous high of 5,700 in 2004.
LSU’s total enrollment came in at 29,549 — a 2 percent increase over last year when LSU reported enrolling 28,985 students.