August 17, 2019 | 84° F

Vice Chancellor shares insight, says low percentage of Black students at Rutgers 'concern'

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Courtney McAnuff, the vice chancellor of Student Enrollment, said the percentage of people who make up the New Brunswick campus's student body is a cause for concern because it is approximately half the percentage of New Jersey's overall population. 

At the Rutgers Board of Governors meeting earlier this week, Richard Roper, the chairman of the Committee of Student and Academic Affairs, said some members of his committee were “surprised and dare I say disappointed” at the number of Black people enrolled at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. 

Black people make up 7 percent of New Brunswick’s student body, he said. 

Courtney McAnuff, the vice chancellor of Student Enrollment, said this number is a cause of concern, as Black people make up 14 percent of New Jersey’s overall population.

But the University cannot consider an applicant’s race when making enrollment decisions, he said. 

“We look at many factors when planning class, among them ethnicity, urban, rural, academic major, discipline,” he said. “Rutgers is a pretty complicated place and people apply to a number of different schools.”

What Rutgers can do, McAnuff said, is create outreach programs that would allow minority students to be admitted as long as they meet the regular admissions criteria. The University invests millions of dollars in pre-college programs that help students reach admissions levels. 

The University can also do in-context reviews, which evaluate students based on their level of income. For example, he said if a student tests a 600 on the SAT and the score for average enrollment is 700, the student can be admitted if their score is much higher than the average for their low-income school district.

“We are looking for the work ethic,” he said. “Someone who can significantly outperform their peers.”

Other programs include the American Talent Initiative, which Rutgers is in along with 110 colleges nationwide to increase minority students enrolled nationwide. He said Rutgers also has a program called Rutgers Future Scholars, which has a website that allows students to put their grades into an online calculator that will tell them where they stand in terms of admissions. They can start using the calculator in the ninth grade. 

Additionally, the Rutgers Educational Opportunity Fund hosted 133 schools and community-based organizations from underserved and historically underrepresented areas for on campus tours last year. Successful outreach should begin in the eighth grade, McAnuff said, so students realize what rigorous criteria they should meet for acceptance. 

Another reason the Black population is a lower percentage than the state’s is because Rutgers cannot offer the same amount of scholarship opportunities other schools can. McAnuff said 61 percent of minority students involved with the Rutgers Future Scholars program end up enrolling in Rutgers. 

The other 39 percent are lost to schools who can offer more scholarship money. For instance, Rutgers’ endowment is $1.2 billion, compared to the $10 billion endowment the University of Michigan receives. McAnuff said the Ivy League schools receive a significantly higher endowment as well. 

Even with this disadvantage, 30 percent of Rutgers’ student body receives a Pell Grant, which means their families are in the lower 40 percent of federal poverty levels, he said. This is the largest percentage of students with such a grant in the country. 

University President Robert L. Barchi said at a Board meeting last year that he supported more funding for need-based financial aid and more funds for food aid, McAnuff said. But they can always be doing more.

“Will we keep working hard? Yes, definitely,” he said. 

Brendan Brightman

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