UCI Rejects Thousands of Transfers--a Campus First : Enrollment: Only about 1,000 slots are available for the community college applicants. Minorities decline.


For the first time in its history, a financially pressed UC Irvine has turned away several thousand qualified transfer students, including many who had been assured of entry if they completed their first two years at a local community college with a minimum grade of C-plus.

UCI officials attribute the problem to an unprecedented 17% surge in transfer applicants even as budget cuts have compelled the university to hold campus enrollment growth below 2% when classes begin Sept. 30.

“In a way, we’re victims of our own success,” said UCI spokeswoman Karen Newell Young, referring to the university’s well-publicized promise to accept local community college students.

This year’s enrollment cap meant there was no way to accommodate about 4,000 students who applied for about 1,000 transfer slots at the university for this fall, UCI Admissions Director James Dunning said. Previously, UCI has been one of the few UC campuses that accepted virtually all student transfers.


In announcing projected 1991-92 enrollment figures Wednesday, UCI officials also reported dramatic declines in the number of black and Latino freshmen who plan to attend this fall despite heavy recruitment efforts. Asian freshmen, however, have increased 9.5%. Asians are now projected to make up more than half of the 1991-92 freshman class of about 2,700.

The number of black freshmen who say they intend to enroll at UCI is 46, down from 100, or 54% of last year. As a percentage of the freshman class, blacks will drop from 3.5% in 1990-91 to 1.7% this fall.

The percentage of Latino freshmen has dropped 23.7%, from 308 last year to 235, or less than a 10th of the freshman class. American Indian students also are targeted for recruitment, and while they have consistently made up less than 1% of UCI’s freshman class, their numbers dropped from 18 last year to 14 this fall.

The number of white freshmen has been decreasing steadily over the last five years, dropping this fall by another 10%. Whites are projected to make up 32.2% of the freshman class this fall, down from 34.3% last year.


Disturbed by these preliminary figures for underrepresented minority students, UCI Chancellor Jack W. Peltason has asked that campus outreach and recruitment efforts among blacks, Latinos and American Indians be reviewed.

“I am extremely concerned,” Peltason said in a statement released Wednesday. “We are proud of our outreach efforts to attract underrepresented minority students. But to ensure that we continue the progress we have made in the past, we are taking another look at our recruitment efforts.”

The UCI figures mirror a trend seen throughout the University of California system in the last few years: the number of Asian high school graduates who meet tougher UC eligibility requirements has soared, while the number of blacks and Latinos who meet the requirements has declined dramatically.

What this means, said Manuel N. Gomez, UCI’s associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, is that UCI is competing for these underrepresented minority students with top universities around the country, including sister UC campuses.


“It’s an extremely frustrating situation,” said Gomez, who also oversees UCI’s efforts to recruit underrepresented minority students. “What we need to do is expand our early outreach programs in junior high schools, and maybe start even earlier, in elementary school.”

That, however, will take more money, something that is in short supply this year and in the foreseeable future, Gomez said.

Budget cuts of about $8 million to $10 million campuswide already have led UCI to hold enrollment increases to less than 2%, for a projected total of 16,945 this fall. UCI is targeted to reach 26,000 students by the year 2005, but Peltason said he plans to keep growth to a minimum for at least the next two years due to the continuing state financial crisis.

Admissions Director Dunning said applicants from California community colleges were given top priority. Almost no out-of-state students or transfer students from private colleges within California were accepted.


Dunning said officials also were forced to change the selection criteria. Students with 56 units transferring as juniors needed only a grade-point average of 2.4, or C-plus. In December, UCI raised that minimum to 3.0, or a B average.

Only community college students with a so-called “Zot” agreement--a binding contract that UCI offers to students at various Orange County and Long Beach colleges--were exempt. But among those 80 or so students admitted with Zot contracts (named for the UCI anteater mascot’s cry) this fall, Dunning said the majority had B averages or better.

Juel Lee, head of UCI’s student transfer services, said he has heard from many disgruntled students and their parents who feel UCI failed to deliver what it promised.

“It’s very uncomfortable for me because we have been saying to students a year ago that if they had a 2.4 grade-point average, they would get in,” Lee said.


Lee attributed the surge in transfer applicants to two factors: his office’s eight years of outreach efforts in local high schools and the growing popularity of UCI as a maturing university with nationally recognized programs.

Elizabeth Bonner, an Orange Coast College student with a 2.8 grade-point average, is one transfer hopeful who got caught in the crunch, her mother, Marika Bonner of Huntington Beach, said.

She said her 20-year-old daughter received a rejection letter from UCI’s admissions office last spring. Due to budget constraints and an overwhelming number of transfer applicants, the letter said, UCI “would not be able to adhere to its published criteria for accepting community college transfers,” Marika Bonner said.

“I can certainly understand their difficulties because I know that education, like health care, is really overwhelmed in this state,” said Bonner, who is executive director of the Orange County Medical Assn. “But we were under the impression there was a priority for those who followed the rules and took the prescribed courses and met the guidelines. . . . It was a deep disappointment to learn that they could no longer adhere to those guidelines.”


For now, she said, her daughter is taking accounting and business ethics courses at OCC and is considering applying to private colleges in Southern California for entry this winter.

Some borderline transfer applicants were advised to apply for the winter quarter of 1992 in hopes that there may be room to admit another 300 or so students, Dunning said.

Transfer registration opens in November for the fall of 1992 and Dunning predicted a similar crunch for next year. To improve the odds of being accepted, he advised students to apply early, adding:

“They also need to get the best grades they can this year and make sure they are clearing any deficient subject areas they have in high school, say in math or English.”


Missing the Mark

Despite heavy recruitment efforts, the number of underrepresented ethnic minorities--American Indians, African-Americans and Latinos--in this year’s UCI freshman class is expected to drop from last year’s level, mirroring a UC-wide trend. Asians are projected to make up just over half of this fall’s incoming freshmen, and whites about one-third.

Fall, 1991 (Projected)

Number % of % Change in Class Class From 1990 Asian 1,400 51.5 +10 White 877 32.2 -10 Latino 235 8.6 -24 Black 46 1.7 -54 American Indian 14 0.5 -22 Unknown/Unstated 149 5.5 -10 TOTAL 2,721 100 -4


Fall, 1990

Number % of % Change in Class Class From 1989 Asian 1,278 44.9 +32 White 975 34.3 +19 Latino 308 10.8 -2 Black 100 3.5 +1 American Indian 18 0.6 -18 Unknown/Unstated 166 5.8 +33 TOTAL 2,845 100 +21

Fall, 1989

Number % of % Change in Class Class From 1988 Asian 967 41.3 -16 White 818 34.9 -39 Latino 313 13.4 +28 Black 99 4.2 +19 American Indian 22 0.9 +69 Unknown/Unstated 125 5.3 -13 TOTAL 2,344 100 -21


Losing Ground Fall, 1988

Number % of % Change in Class Class From 1987 White 1,341 45.2 +15 Asian 1,146 38.6 +22 Latino 244 8.2 +40 Black 83 2.8 +41 American Indian 13 0.4 +44 Unknown/Unstated 143 4.8 +40 TOTAL 2,970 100 +21

Losing Ground

Underrepresented groups are expected to enter UCI this fall at about half the peak levels of 1989 (Percentage of Fall Freshman Class).


LATINO ’87: 7.1% ’89: 13.4% ’91: 8.6%

BLACK ’87: 2.4% ’89: 4.2% ’91: 1.7%

AMERICAN INDIAN ’87: 0.4% ’89: 0.9% ’91: 0.5%