Spotlight: Freshman class celebrates diversity

Author: Julie Hail Flory


Each year, Notre Dame welcomes its best and brightest freshman class to date. This year is certainly no exception, and, in many ways, incoming students have a great deal in common ? all are strong in academics, have admirable SAT and ACT scores, and bring a host of other skills and talents to campus.

But the students who are entering the University this fall also are quite different, both from each other and from their predecessors. In fact, they make up the most diverse freshman class in Notre Dame history.

With a minority student population of 21 percent, the class of 2007 is the latest evidence of the University better reflecting the faces of society. An increasing number of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students are applying, gaining admission, and making the decision to attend each year, changing the face of the typical Notre Dame student.

When University leaders reflect on Notre Dame through the decades, many think back to a time when diversity was scarce- and even non-existent.

“Notre Dame was much more monochromatic in the past, at least in appearance,” said Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., the University’s president. “All of the students were male, most of them were Caucasian. Now the student body is about half male and half female, and we have a growing percentage of those from different underrepresented groups. We’re working to make Notre Dame more clearly resemble the demographics of the country and of the world.”

With that goal in mind, the University is continually strengthening its commitment to attracting multicultural students. By utilizing national student search programs, visiting selected high school campuses, and bringing some 150 admitted students to Notre Dame each spring, the Office of Admissions works toward a diverse student body from the very beginning of the application and admission process.

“Our approach to this always has been to increase the interest level, the number of inquiries and applications,” said Robert Mundy, director of admissions operations. “If we do that, that increase will just carry on through to the admitted and enrolling numbers, and that’s exactly what happened this year.”

More than 2,000 minority students filed applications for 2003, the highest number in the past decade and a 39-percent increase from 2002. Of those who applied, some 860 gained admission, roughly 200 more minority students than were accepted the previous year.

“I’m really pleased about the dramatic increase in the members of underrepresented groups here at Notre Dame,” Father Malloy said. “We’ve been working hard to get the application numbers up, and also to make sure those who are admitted decide to come.”

When they do make that decision, the Notre Dame community welcomes students from all walks of life with open arms. More than 500 students from ethnically underrepresented groups attended an opening reception sponsored by the First Year of Studies program before classes began. Now, they’re embarking on their own version of the Notre Dame experience, each playing a special part in the ever-evolving student body.

Regardless of their varied backgrounds or coming experiences, from this point on, they’re all Irish.

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