Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Smaller Texas Institutions Expect Increased Minority Presence as a Result of Hopwood Decision

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Smaller Texas Institutions Expect Increased Minority Presence as a Result of Hopwood Decision

Article excerpt

Austin, Texas -- While the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have experienced a decline in minority applicants because of the Hopwood ruling, officials at Stephen F. Austin State University in eastern Texas anticipate an increase in minority enrollment this fall.

"I don't think Hopwood is going to be of a significant impact," said Roger Bilow, director of admissions at the small independent university in Nacogdoches, about 150 miles northeast of Houston.

Although Bilow does not have a racial breakdown of the applicants for fall 1997, he said aggressive minority recruiting has increased campus diversity and will maintain it despite the court ruling that ended affirmative action in recruiting, admissions, financial aid and scholarships in Texas higher education. Last fall, 892 of the university's 11,690 students were African American, a larger percentage of the student body than those who attended the University of Texas (UT) or Texas A&M.

But a more important factor may be the school's size.

"We don't have the luxury of a cap on enrollment [like UT and Texas A&M]," Bilow said, so the university can offer partial scholarships to more students and be more flexible in admissions. The other two institutions are flooded with admission applications each year and, as a result, they have set limits on the number of students they accept annually and have more stringent admissions requirements.

Discussions about Hopwood often have focused on the state's flagship universities because although historically they have enrolled few minorities, they receive more state appropriations than other public universities. UT and Texas A&M enrolled about 48,000 and 38,000 students last year, respectively. The universities also have been negatively perceived by many African Americans because of segregation and ongoing, highly publicized racial incidents in recent years. Hopwood, which originated at the UT law school, exacerbates the perception that the university is not welcoming to minorities.

"A&M and UT are dealing with perceptions in the minds of minority applicants. You see potential anti-Black rhetoric at these universities," said Alonzo Jones, director of Upward Bound at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.

Smaller public universities such as Stephen F. Austin and the historically Black colleges and universities, which have attracted the vast majority of minority students in Texas public higher education, remain a viable option for African American students seeking a four-year degree or more. …

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