The number of incoming freshman minority students at Portland State has declined after the minimum GPA requirement for admission into PSU was raised in 2004, according to a study conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (OIRP).
Since the minimum high school grade point average required for admittance to PSU was increased from 2.5 to 3.0, the number of incoming black freshman students has dropped from 4.4 percent in the fall of 2003 to 2.9 percent of 1,061 total enrolled freshmen in the fall of 2004, according to the study.
“That is shocking to me,” said Agnes Hoffman, associate vice provost for enrollment management and student affairs. “[The numbers] are reason for additional attentiveness and study.”
Hoffman said that these numbers must be watched carefully to determine whether or not this is the beginning of a trend or if the 2004 school year was just a “peculiar year.”
“There are issues besides [the new GPA requirement] for students,” Hoffman said. “We raised tuition. We were late with financial aid. I don’t think it is any one thing. I don’t think [if] we lowered the GPA back to where it was it would solve anything. It is important that students enter PSU prepared [for college]. Otherwise we do them a disservice.”
Asian/Pacific Islanders represented 13.5 percent of new freshmen in the fall of 2003. In 2004, that number had also declined to 10.6 percent.
While the number of black students who applied to PSU was similar in both years, admission rates for these minority groups have fallen significantly. In 2003, 76.7 percent of African Americans who applied for admission were accepted to PSU. In 2004, that number fell to 56 percent. Admission rates for Asian and Pacific Islander students decreased from 88.1 percent to 80.7 percent.
In 2002, Mary Kay Tetreault, then PSU provost, introduced a measure to the faculty senate to increase the minimum GPA requirement for admissions from 2.5 to 3.0. The measure passed despite protest from student government representatives, and the new policy took effect in fall 2004.
While nothing certain can be concluded from the numbers in the study, said OIRP director Kathi Ketcheson, the admissions rates of minority students should be watched closely.
“We don’t know if we’re going to see a pattern,” Ketcheson said. “We don’t know what the long-term impact is going to be. Because [the GPA requirement] is a new policy, it’s just good practice to monitor it.”
“If it looks like there’s a consistent problem, we’ll gather together the appropriate people to look at it and figure out how to address it,” said Roy Koch, who will become university provost in July, replacing interim Provost Michael Reardon.
Students who do not meet admittance requirements may still be accepted by completing a request for special admission. The number of black students specially admitted has risen, according to the study. In 2003, one-fourth to one-third of black students were specially admitted. That number rose in 2004 to 53 percent of black incoming freshman.
Jon Joiner, coordinator of the Multicultural Center, finds these statistics concerning. “Since nothing conclusive is yet to be drawn from this report … I hope we, the university, will have taken steps to alter this seemingly skewed course.”
According to the study, the admission rates are also down overall, with a decline from 84 percent of total applicants accepted in 2003 to 79 percent in 2004.
Despite these statistics, the study suggests that the drops in admission rates and enrollment for the entire incoming freshman body are not inconsistent with usual trends.
“The new admission requirement … has not had a drastic impact on the composition of the new freshman body,” the study read. “With few exceptions, [there] do not appear to be sudden changes due to the effect of the new GPA requirement.”