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A decade of Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida has seen minority college enrollment rise

A decade after Gov. Jeb Bush announced his plan to end race-based university admissions, the fears and predictions of critics who participated in marches and sit-ins have not played out. Minority enrollment has risen or remained stable.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

A decade after Gov. Jeb Bush announced his plan to end race-based university admissions, the fears and predictions of critics who participated in marches and sit-ins have not played out. Minority enrollment has risen or remained stable.

TALLAHASSEE

A decade after Gov. Jeb Bush announced his controversial plan to end race-based university admissions, the number of minority students statewide has risen, according to a Times/Herald review of enrollment figures.

"That certainly flies in the face of those who were predicting Armageddon all those years ago," said universities chancellor Frank Brogan. He was Bush's lieutenant governor during the launch of One Florida, a plan that sparked marches and sit-ins in the Capitol and across the state.

The increasing diversity of Florida's 11 public universities has been fueled mostly by Hispanic enrollment — from 13.8 percent to 18 percent of total enrollment statewide — which reflects in part the changing demographics of the Sunshine State.

Black enrollment offers a mixed picture: a statewide dip, from 14 percent to 13.6 percent, with increases at some universities and decreases at others. For example, the University of South Florida in Tampa went from 9.2 percent to 11.5 percent black enrollment while Florida International University in Miami dropped from 14.6 percent to 12.4 percent.

"I'm of mixed opinion as to whether or not it's ultimately had a negative impact on diversity," USF admissions director Bob Spatig said of eliminating race-based admissions. "It certainly hasn't on the growing Hispanic population. … But I think in some ways we're all stretching as much as we can to make sure it doesn't impact our African-American numbers."

College admissions officials agree, though, that One Florida better focused their attentions on diversity and alternative methods to recruit minorities. They now look at factors like geography, family college history, and socioeconomics. They reach out to first-generation students through scholarships and have closer ties with schools in low-income, urban areas.

"I think for the most part, universities stepped up," said John Barnhill, longtime director of admissions at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Jamel Langley could have gone to Florida A&M, the state's historically black university where his father is a professor. But instead Langley, who is black, chose the University of Florida.

"I knew there wouldn't be as many minorities here at UF, but I love that when I walk around, I see people I've never seen before," said Langley, 21. "College is the chance you get to see the world from different views."

• • •

Bush announced the admissions changes eliminating race as a factor in November 1999.

One Florida set off a firestorm of opposition. Two of the most outspoken critics, lawmakers Kendrick Meek and Tony Hill, staged a sit-in for 25 hours until Bush agreed to slow down implementation of the admissions changes. Three weeks after the sit-in, 1,000 students marched into the Capitol to give Bush their critique of One Florida.

Bush and four Florida A&M students met and came up with this: Race was still out as a factor, but the admissions changes' effect on diversity would be regularly reviewed.

"The system as it currently exists in Florida is far from perfect, but the broader discussion of removing obstacles and creating access to higher education for Florida's children and their families happened as a result of public input," said Meek, now a U.S. Representative, D-Miami, in a statement this week.

"It's always nice to have your ideas validated," Bush said during a recent interview about the increase in minority enrollment. "But the important thing is that students of all backgrounds are getting an opportunity, and the students are stronger than ever."

In the years since One Florida took effect, colleges have carefully monitored their minority enrollment numbers. Some universities show more dramatic gains, the result of varying recruiting efforts and geographic realities.

FIU saw Hispanic enrollment grow from 50.9 to nearly 60 percent — not surprising given its location in heavily Hispanic South Florida. USF likewise saw Hispanic enrollment increase from 8.8 percent to 12.6 percent.

"One Florida allowed us to continue having targeted recruitment," Spatig said. "What's restricted is the ability to use it in the admissions decision. But we can still do a recruitment program that's targeted at African Americans."

So USF recruits from some rural high schools where the students are mostly white and the first to attend college. But it also recruits from more than 100 high schools where the students are mostly Hispanic and black and low-income.

Spatig and his team look for students from D- and F-rated schools who outperform their peers in test scores, GPA and extracurricular activities. Some 750 students benefit from three USF programs that offer intense academic advising for first-generation students, most of whom are minorities.

Juan Soltero, a native of Puerto Rico, is the first Hispanic student body president at USF. His vice president? A native of Brazil.

"It's something we're very proud of," said Soltero, 21, whose family lives in Brandon. "Our library, our student union, are places where you really see the diversity.

• • •

The "greatest challenge" remains recruiting black students — particularly men, said FSU's Barnhill.

The university has the highest graduation rate for black students in the country and, long before One Florida, was a leader in recruiting minority students. The end of race-based admissions didn't make that easier. FSU's black enrollment dropped over the past decade.

"There are so few of those students entering the pipeline and ready for college to begin with, and the competition for those students is enormous," Barnhill said.

Hill said Florida's elimination of race-based admissions made it easier for Ivy League schools to lure away the brightest minorities with a free college education.

"We can't use race in the equation, but the Princetons and the Harvards can," said Hill, D-Jacksonville. "So instead of us just going out to find the best and brightest in minority high schools, we need to make sure all of our students are ready for college."

Some university officials wonder what colleges would look like today if race-based admissions remained in effect.

"We have worked hard to improve the diversity, and we have done a good job keeping our heads above water," said UF provost Joe Glover. "But you could also ask, would we have improved even more had the policy not been imposed? We can't answer that, but the truth is we are not satisfied and we have to keep trying to do better."

Florida Atlantic University was one school that saw dramatic gains in both Hispanics and blacks.

Brogan, who served as FAU's president for more than six years before taking the chancellor job in September, says it reflects efforts at establishing relationships with students as early as middle school, as well as summer education courses and financial assistance.

"Minority enrollment is not something you can just do from time to time," said Brogan. "It takes constant care and attention."

For Bush, the next measure of Florida higher education's success will be evident in the number of caps and gowns handed out to minorities.

"Getting in is great, but that doesn't have a life-altering impact like graduating and having a degree does," Bush said.

Shannon Colavecchio can be reached at scolavecchio@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Florida's 11 universities have grown significantly more diverse in the past decade, even though admissions offices no longer consider race as a factor. Here is a look at how the diversity has changed from 1998, the year before Gov. Jeb Bush announced the end of race-based admissions, and 2008:

SUS1998% of total2008% of total

White14223163.5 173,003 57.2

Black3141314 41,190 13.6

Hispanic3079213.8 54,452 18

Asian92124.1 14,990 5

Total223922302513

Note: Totals include nonresident aliens and those who choose not to check a box for race.

By university

New College of Florida

1998% of total2008% of total

Whiten/a 617 78.4

Blackn/a 14 1.8

Hispanicn/a 79 10

Asiann/a 22 2.8

Totaln/a787

University of West Florida

1998% of total2008% of total

White647980.88,01676.2

Black7158.91,06510.1

Hispanic2553.25265

Asian3364.25405.1

Total801510,516

University of North Florida

1998% of total2008% of total

White923779.211,51074.6

Black11529.91,54510

Hispanic4403.81,0046.5

Asian58458545.5

Total1165715,427

Florida Gulf Coast University

1998% of total2008% of total

White259885.8 7,839 76.6

Black993.3 444 4.3

Hispanic2036.7 1,208 11.8

Asian551.8 181 1.8

Total302810,238

Florida Atlantic University

1998% of total2008% of total

White1327267.515,07155.8

Black245012.54,61417.1

Hispanic208710.64,86818

Asian7023.61,2544.6

Total1966627,021

Florida International University

1998% of total2008% of total

White718123.36,60116.9

Black449714.64,83912.4

Hispanic1568950.923,40159.8

Asian10733.51,4403.7

Total3082439,146

Florida A&M University

1998% of total2008% of total

White7035.95965

Black1075590.910,63189.7

Hispanic12112682.3

Asian1221 141 1.2

Total1183711,848

University of South Florida

1998% of total2008% of total

White2498373.330,20665.2

Black31529.25,34111.5

Hispanic30128.85,82912.6

Asian16404.82,6855.8

Total3408946332

University of Central Florida

1998% of total2008% of total

White2277474.833,31366.3

Black212674,4338.8

Hispanic29529.76,88613.7

Asian13754.52,6235.2

Total3044350,275

Florida State University

1998% of total2008% of total

White2363775.627,58070.6

Black378312.1 3,955 10.1

Hispanic21136.84,11010.5

Asian7762.51,2583.2

Total3125639,072

University of Florida1998% of total2008% of total

White3136772.331,65461

Black26846.24,3098.3

Hispanic39209.16,27312.1

Asian259463,9927.7

Total4310851,851

Changing college diversity

Florida's 11 universities have grown significantly more diverse in the past decade, even though admissions offices no longer consider race as a factor. Here is a look at how the diversity has changed from 1998, the year before Gov. Jeb Bush announced the end of race-based admissions, and 2008:

SUS 1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 142,231 63.5 173,003 57.2
Black 31,413 14 41,190 13.6
Hispanic 30,792 13.8 54,452 18
Asian 9,212 4.1 14,990 5
Total 223,922 302,513
Note: Totals include nonresident aliens and those who choose not to check a box for race.

Enrollments at state colleges

Enrollment figures at the 11 state colleges are broken down by race in charts. 6A

New College of Florida

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White n/a 617 78.4
Black n/a 14 1.8
Hispanic n/a 79 10
Asian n/a 22 2.8
Total n/a 787

University of West Florida

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 6,479 80.8 8,016 76.2
Black 715 8.9 1,065 10.1
Hispanic 255 3.2 526 5
Asian 336 4.2 540 5.1
Total 8,015 10,516

University of North Florida

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 9,237 79.2 11,510 74.6
Black 1,152 9.9 1,545 10
Hispanic 440 3.8 1,004 6.5
Asian 584 5 854 5.5
Total 11,657 15,427

Florida Gulf Coast University

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 2,598 85.8 7,839 76.6
Black 99 3.3 444 4.3
Hispanic 203 6.7 1,208 11.8
Asian 55 1.8 181 1.8
Total 3,028 10,238

Florida Atlantic University

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 13,272 67.5 15,071 55.8
Black 2,450 12.5 4,614 17.1
Hispanic 2,087 10.6 4,868 18
Asian 702 3.6 1,254 4.6
Total 19,666 27,021

Florida International University

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 7,181 23.3 6,601 16.9
Black 4,497 14.6 4,839 12.4
Hispanic 15,689 50.9 23,401 59.8
Asian 1,073 3.5 1,440 3.7
Total 30,824 39,146

Florida A&M University

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 703 5.9 596 5
Black 10,755 90.9 10,631 89.7
Hispanic 121 1 268 2.3
Asian 122 1 141 1.2
Total 11,837 11,848

University of South Florida

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 24,983 73.3 30,206 65.2
Black 3,152 9.2 5,341 11.5
Hispanic 3,012 8.8 5,829 12.6
Asian 1,640 4.8 2,685 5.8
Total 34,089 46332

University of Central Florida

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 22,774 74.8 33,313 66.3
Black 2,126 7 4,433 8.8
Hispanic 2,952 9.7 6,886 13.7
Asian 1,375 4.5 2,623 5.2
Total 30,443 50,275

Florida State University

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 23,637 75.6 27,580 70.6
Black 3,783 12.1 3,955 10.1
Hispanic 2113 6.8 4,110 10.5
Asian 776 2.5 1,258 3.2
Total 31,256 39,072

University of Florida

1998 % of total 2008 % of total
White 31,367 72.3 31,654 61
Black 2,684 6.2 4,309 8.3
Hispanic 3,920 9.1 6,273 12.1
Asian 2,594 6 3,992 7.7
Total 4,3108 51,851

A decade of Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida has seen minority college enrollment rise 12/13/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1:08pm]

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