USF developing plan to increase Black enrollment

No details on how the plan would be achieved were provided at the time of publication. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Following years of declining Black enrollment at USF, the university is developing a strategic enrollment plan to identify where work needs to be done, according to a university statement provided to The Oracle by Director of Media Relations Althea Johnson.

USF will be working with higher education consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) to carry out the strategic enrollment plan, the statement read. Aside from increasing Black enrollment, USF has multiple other goals it hopes to achieve as part of the plan, including:

  • Maintaining class sizes while increasing USF’s academic profile and access
  • Optimizing the university’s financial aid and scholarship dollars to appropriately manage enrollment
  • Increasing graduation rates at USF

The university contracted with RNL in December, the statement read. When the project was kicked off in February, USF formed a strategic enrollment planning council that would be expected to collaborate with RNL to write a new strategic enrollment plan, according to the statement.

The plan is expected to be complete this December, with approved projects being implemented beginning in 2024, according to the statement.

USF is currently analyzing student success data to develop recommendations and action plans, the statement read.

Black enrollment has been on a slow decline at USF, according to USF Fact Books. The number of Black students enrolled at USF over the past few years are:

The statement said this downward trend is something the university plans to address in the near future.

“Although in recent years our Black student enrollment has not increased proportionally with overall student enrollment, particularly among freshmen, we are focused on reversing this trend,” the statement read.

Pressure to increase Black enrollment at USF grew at the beginning of this year when six members of Students for a Democratic Society interrupted President Rhea Law’s inauguration in protest. 

The students held a banner that read ‘We won’t wait. Increase Black enrollment’ while chanting ‘Increase Black enrollment now.’

After the protestors were escorted out of the ceremony, Law addressed their concerns in her own speech. 

“To those who just spoke a few moments ago, I just want to say that we’ve been working very hard on Black enrollment. In fact, we have some great news to share which will be coming soon,” Law said at her Jan. 19 inauguration.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that raced-based affirmative action admission policies were unconstitutional. While it is unclear if USF’s new strategy will be altered due to this decision, it is unlikely it will have much impact given that affirmative action was already banned in Florida in 1999. 

Though no specific goals will be determined until the plan is implemented, the university will continue to work on expanding its outreach to students of color, according to the statement.

“USF will continue to develop and apply new strategies to recruit, enroll and graduate more students of color from across the state, the nation and the globe,” the statement read.