College gets low marks for integrating blacks
A recent study by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranked Dartmouth 18th among America's 26 best universities for its success at integrating African-Americans and last out of Ivy League institutions.
Rankings of other Ivy League universities included Princeton third, Harvard eighth, Columbia 11th, Yale 13th and Cornell 15th. Duke University topped the list while the University of Chicago cam in last.
The schools were scored in each of 13 categories, including total black student enrollments (graduate and undergraduate), five-year progress in black student enrollments, percentage of blacks in the 2005 freshman class and the percentage of blacks among the tenured faculty.
The college was hurt by drops in the percentages of black students, black faculty and tenured black faculty during the last five years that ranked Dartmouth near the bottom of the list of schools for these categories.
Assistant Dean of the Faculty Jane Caroll dismissed the study's concern about Dartmouth's ability to retain its black faculty. Caroll referred to the recent senior and junior black faculty hires and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity as evidence of Dartmouth's commitment to diversity.
Robert Slater, the managing editor of the journal, commented, "Dartmouth is hindered by its rural location. This and its conservative reputation makes it difficult for the school to recruit black applicants."
Reputation was a key concern for the journal, and the report mentioned the "ghetto" party thrown by a Dartmouth fraternity four years ago that many argued reflected intolerance at the College.
Jennai Williams '03, a member of historically black sorority at Alpha Kappa Alpha, felt the level of integration at Dartmouth was not significantly different from other campuses.
"You can't help but hang out with members of other races sometimes because the school is so small," she said.
Williams admitted, "In the beginning I was really critical of the administration, but now I realize that they put a great deal of effort into integrating blacks." She cited the college's participation in the national conference on race and ethnicity in higher education over the years as an example of the strides the college is making.
The study also noted that Dartmouth has higher black faculty levels than Harvard and Yale and has increased its black student yield by more than 11 percent in five years. The report remarked on the difficulty of attracting black faculty into a rural area with no sizable black community.
From another JBHE study on the progress of black student enrollments, the latest numbers for the student body are mixed. For the new freshman Class of 2006, there are 71 African-Americans compared with 75 for the class of 2005, a 5.3 percent decline.
At the same time, Dartmouth had a 42.8 percent acceptance rate for black applicants compared with Cornell's 35.8 percent. The overall acceptance rate for Dartmouth is a much lower 20.5 percent.
Slater stressed that Dart-mouth's ranking should not deter blacks from applying. He pointed out that Dartmouth's high graduation rate of 85 percent for blacks coupled with increased institutional awareness were positive signs that applicants should keep in mind.