The number of Hispanic freshmen enrolled at the University of Maryland this fall was the highest figure since 2016, while the number of Black or African American freshmen saw a small increase, according to data recently released by the Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment office. 

Black or African American students make up 11.3 percent of this year’s freshman class, up from 11.1 percent last fall, and Hispanic students make up 8.3 percent, compared to 7.5 percent last fall, according to the data. 

In his first email as university president in July, Darryll Pines wrote that preliminary numbers indicated the incoming freshmen class would be the university’s “most diverse on record.” In an interview with The Diamondback on Monday, he said this is the first time in the university’s history the non-international portion of the freshman class has been “majority minority.”

However, some of the enrollment numbers did not increase as much as the university originally predicted — the number of Black or African American freshmen ultimately increased by about two percent from last year, not the eight percent the university had initially estimated. The university also predicted the number of Hispanic freshmen would increase by 17 percent, and it instead increased by 11.5 percent.

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Meanwhile, the proportion of transfer students who are Black or African American increased by 3.5 percentage points to 17.6 percent, with the highest total number since 1992, when IRPA first started collecting data.

After a marked drop in Black or African American enrollment in fall 2018 — when Black or African American students made up the smallest proportion of the freshman class in decades — the university created an Enrollment Action Council, designed to work toward increasing the university’s accessibility. The school is hoping to continue developing relationships with administrators in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, according to a statement from Shannon Gundy, the executive director of undergraduate admissions.

Pines said the number of African American students at this university who are from Prince George’s County has increased recently. He added that the university is partnering with county schools and that officials have been working with students and their families on college applications.

“One of the challenges with both underrepresented minority, large groups — which are Latinx and African Americans — is that they start the application and don’t complete the application,” Pines said. “The team put a lot of effort in terms of completing those applications, both transfer students and freshmen. And I think that made a big difference in this year’s numbers.”

However, this university’s population still does not reflect the demographics of the state of Maryland. From 2017 to 2019, at least 33 percent of all public school students in the state were Black or African American. At this university in the same time period, the proportion of Black or African American undergraduates never surpassed 12.5 percent.

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