After recent uptick in enrollment of minority students, TU’s student population is expected to become majority-minority

By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief 

Towson University is expected to become a minority-majority campus after several years of nearly half of its incoming classes identifying as a racial or ethnic minority, the school announced Monday.

About 57% of TU’s incoming class identifies as a racial or ethnic minority, according to university data. Based on the uptick in minority student enrollment over the last two years, TU Spokesperson Matt Palmer said the four-year trend is showing the possibility of TU being a majority-minority institution.  

He said the final number of enrolled students for the fall semester is still under review. 

Approximately 50.8% of TU’s undergraduate students identified as a racial or ethnic minority in the fiscal year 2021 and 47.8% in FY 2020, according to data from the University System of Maryland. In comparison, FY 2017 saw 39.5% of minority undergraduate students.

Senior Kamryn Brown said she felt joy hearing the possibility of TU becoming a majority-minority school. Brown, president of Bettering Black Minds, an on-campus group focused on destigmatizing Black mental health, said one shouldn’t have to attend a Historically Black College or University to have a majority-minority student body. 

“Historically, Black and brown people have been underrepresented in higher education,” Brown said. “And to see Towson specifically become a predominantly minority campus, it’s very progressive.” 

The number of white undergraduate students has steadily declined since 2017. That year, 56.5% of enrolled undergraduate students were white compared to 46.9% in 2021.  

Graphic: University System of Maryland

The university said the data matches the state’s trends of a growing minority population. U.S. Census data showed in 2020, 47%, less than half, of Maryland’s residents identify as non-Hispanic white, The Baltimore Sun reported

Eighty-nine percent of first-year students are Maryland residents, the university said. In total, the fall semester will see 2,678 freshmen, 1,532 transfer students and 731 graduate students. 

“Preparing students to work in a global society is critical to the world’s future,” Patricia Bradley, vice president of TU’s Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity, said in a statement. “Just as the demographic population of the world has changed, so has Towson University’s demographic population.”

Echoing Bradley, Jordan Colquitt, president of the Student Government Association, said the uptick in minority enrollment is representative of the work the university is doing to support a diverse student body. 

“Through our many programs, departments and initiatives, I think it’s awesome that more diverse students are pouring into our campus community,” Colquitt said.

In comparison to TU, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County saw 59% of undergraduate students identifying as a racial or ethnic minority in FY 2021. That same year, the University of Maryland, College Park saw 47% of minority undergraduate students. 

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Despite the growing number of minority students, TU’s faculty and staff are less diverse. In the FY of 2021, 66.9% of faculty and 70.8% of staff identified as white. In comparison, in FY 2017, 74.4% of faculty and 73.5% of staff identified as white. 

OIIE set recruitment and retention as one of its action items within its strategic plan, “A More Inclusive TU: Advancing Equity and Diversity, The Towerlight reported. The office intends to review current programs and infrastructure at TU to assess its effectiveness in fostering an inclusive environment for students and staff. 

They hope to increase the number of minority staff and faculty members at TU by 2025. 

In a statement, Iona Johnson, assistant provost for diversity and inclusion, said the university is working to increase diversity within its faculty and staff. As a result, TU requires training for all faculty search committees to reduce possible bias within the hiring process.

“We have specific guidelines for recruitment to assure that there is broad outreach to ensure a diverse applicant pool, including outreach and relationship building with graduate programs in Minority Serving Institutions… to reach potential applicants,” Johnson said. 

Additionally, to aid in faculty retention, Johnson said TU will roll out a new faculty mentorship program. 

“We know that mentoring is important for all faculty and will be especially beneficial for faculty who are new to our campus and or from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups,” Johnson said. 

TU first integrated in 1955 after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka deemed segregated schools as unconstitutional, according to the Unearthing Towson’s History Project

The university saw its first Black graduates in 1959 with Marvis E. Barnes and Myra A. Harris. The women were honored by TU in June with the renaming of two residential buildings after them. 

Prior to this, West Village 1, built in 2008, was named William Paca House, and West Village 2, built in 2015, was named Charles Carroll Hall. Carroll and Paca were both slave owners. 
West Village 1 will become Harris Hall, and West Village 2, Barnes Hall. The buildings will have a formal dedication ceremony during the Fall 2022 semester.

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