Note on Minorities and Minority Admissions

Note on Minorities and Minority Admissions

The first recorded black woman to attend Barnard was the then 30-year-old Zora Neale Hurston, who entered in 1925. Several years earlier she had attended Howard University, but dropped out. Her admission to Barnard was sponsored by trustee Annie Nathan Meyer, who had met Hurston through Meyer’s involvement with black  writers and artists who constituted what later came to be called the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston graduated from Barnard as a member of the class of 1928. Over next three decades  a trickle of black women attended Barnard, almost never more than two in any given class and maybe 30 in all,  with a dozen of them staying on to graduate. Beginning in the early 1960s the unstated limit on the number of blacks admitted to Barnard during the Gildersleeve deanship gave way under President Rosemary Park and thereafter to a more welcoming institutional stance.

By the early 1970s, blacks constituted upwards of 10% of entering classes, but remained the only designated racial minority in the College’s annual reports.  Asian and Asian American women had earlier attended Barnard, some dating back to the 1910s, and the College’s  pre-WW II graduation lists contain names suggestive of  Asian heritages. The same is the case with what we now designate as Hispanics or Latinas,  as indicated by students’  given residences in Latin America and/or Hispanic surnames. Only occasionally can the nationality of these mid-20th century students likely to be of Asian or Hispanic ancestry be designated definitively by nationality.

The first found multi-racial rendering of the  Barnard student body is for 1979 and was prepared in anticipation of the for the College’s 1980  Middle States Reaccreditation Review.

White 83%
Asian 9%
Hispanic 5%
Black 4%

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed a modest but steady increase in minority students as a share of the entire student body, with the three major designated minority groups maintaining their relative positions. By 2001 students of color (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics) represented about one-third of the student body,
Asian Americans – 21%
Hispanics                 – 6%
African Americans – 5%

Since then, applicants from each of these three groups have had roughly similarly admission outcomes,  with admit rates of around 25%s (slightly higher for Hispanics) and yield rates of about 40% (slightly lower for blacks), and all below both the admit rate and yield rate for white applicants. Asian American applicants account for more than half of all minority applicants in the 2002-2018 period.


2002-2018 Apps. Admits Admit Rate Enrolls Yield
Blacks 7302 1859 25% 635 34%
Latina 7597 2097 28% 844 40%
Asian 19810 4743 24% 1962 41%
Other/Unknown 5158 1307 25% 605 46%
Apps Of Color 39867 10006 25% 4046 40%
White 35761 11607 32% 5590 48%
All Groups 75628 21613 29% 9636 45%

Meanwhile, students of color have increased proportionally until they now represent nearly 50% of the student body.  A majority of applicants for admission into the last three entering classes have been applicants of color.