Although a record number of black freshman enrolled at Yale this year, the University ranked 38th in Black Enterprise Magazine’s 2004 list of the 50 best colleges for black students published last month, polling well below top-ten-ranked Stanford, Columbia and Harvard universities.
This year, Yale topped the Ivy League in black freshman enrollments, yet the University was the fifth-ranked Ivy League institution. Yale was slightly ahead of 41st-ranked Brown and far ahead of Princeton and Dartmouth, which did not make the magazine’s list.
Yale has a total black undergraduate enrollment of 422, about 8 percent of the total student body of 5,339, with blacks comprising 9.3 percent of first-year students — Yale’s highest rate in the past decade, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said the University’s high black freshman enrollment speaks for itself.
“My sense is that African-American students are voting with their feet,” Salovey said in an e-mail Sunday. “They believe that Yale presents an educational and social environment in which they can flourish, and so they come here.”
Historically black colleges and universities held six of the top ten positions in Black Enterprise’s report, including Atlanta’s Morehouse College, the nation’s largest all-male private liberal arts institution, which ranked first for the third time in four years.
Since 1999, Black Enterprise has published the report in collaboration with Thomas LaVeist, a Johns Hopkins University professor. The magazine selected 482 accredited four-year colleges for consideration that were either large or well-known institutions or had black enrollments of at least 3 percent. A group of 1,855 black higher education professionals, such as university presidents and provosts, were then asked to rate schools based on their success at providing positive social and educational environments for black students.
Yale’s ranking is an improvement from last year when it came in 40th. The University’s improvement in the rankings corresponds to a growing percentage of black freshman enrollments, which are up markedly from 6.7 percent last year.
Salovey said he is pleased with Yale’s growing diversity, but he added that the University will continue to work toward a more open environment. The Afro-American Cultural Center, which celebrated its 35th anniversary last weekend, has played an integral role in promoting diversity and acceptance, he said.
“We strive continually to create an even more welcoming atmosphere at Yale for African-American students,” Salovey said.
Yale’s ranking toward the bottom of the list came as a surprise to many students. Although Candace Arthur ’05 said she understands why historically black institutions received high marks, she said she thinks Yale should have ranked higher than 38th. She added that she is pleased she chose Yale even though it does not have a majority-black student body like Howard University and Morehouse.
“You really have to want that to enjoy it,” Arthur said. “In the real world, there isn’t just one race.”
Arthur said conditions for black students at Yale have improved every year since she matriculated. She noted that while there were no black fraternities or sororities when she arrived on campus four years ago, there are now six.
But there is still room for improvement, Arthur said, especially in the area of student-faculty relations. She said a Yale professor once was “culturally insensitive” toward her because of her Grenadian background.
“[The professor] made a comment on whether English was my first language,” Arthur said, declining to name the professor.
Daryl McAdoo ’05, an ethnic counselor, said he thinks the University should focus on diversifying its faculty.
“There are very few black professors at Yale, so it’s harder to find black academic advisors,” McAdoo said. “Everyone ends up asking [Assistant Yale College Dean Pamela] George.”
Gabriela Bernadett ’08 said that as a black student, she does not think there are any signs of racial tension at the University.
“As of now, there’s really nothing in dire need of change,” Bernadett said.