History

In 1981, the College established the Office of Minority Student Affairs.  The first African American students enrolled in the College in the early 60’s, during the years of the civil rights struggles in the South.  The first African American graduate of the College was Nathaniel Owens, of Hartselle, TN, in the class of1970.  After graduating with honors in English, he made the decision to attend law school, declining an opportunity to play in the NFL, after the Cincinnati Bengal’s football team drafted him.  He and his family live in Alabama where he practices law.
 
By 1969, the student body included a small number of pioneering students of color including four African Americans and a sprinkling of Hispanic and Asian students.  By 1975, the number of African American students in the College had increased to the high-teens.  Out of this early cohort, students elected an African American as the President of the Honor Council and another as the President of the Student Assembly.
 
During the late 70’s, the enrollment of students of color in the College dwindled to a small group of four students.
 
Faculty members in the College became concerned with the reversal of the trend towards more diversity and, with the help of the administration, created the Office of Minority Student Affairs in 1981, now changed to Multi-Cultural Affairs.  Over the next decade, the number of African American and other students of the color in the College began to increase, with retention figures ranging from sixty-to seventy-five percent.
   
By the early 90’s, the work of the Admission’s office led to increases in enrollment of African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American students.  During this period, retention began to rise as well.  New programs such as the Faculty-Mentor Program, the opening of the Ayres Multi-Cultural Center, and summer programs had positive impacts on the lives of the students.  Students structured meaningful College funded internships, research opportunities, traveled abroad to study, or accompanied professors abroad on special research projects.
 
This fall, students of color comprised twelve percent of the freshman class.  The retention rate of students of color for 2007-2008 was ninety-three percent, an increase from eighty-three percent in 2000.  The rate of retention has been better than ninety percent for seven years.  During this period, the number of students of color in the College rose from eighty-five to one hundred and fifty-two, a new high.  This number includes thirty-nine Hispanic Americans, fifty-nine African Americans, forty-two Asian Americans, and twelve Native Americans in a student body of 1,460.  We have thirty-four international students representing thirty-four countries.
 
Students have enjoyed and benefited from the academic experience and special nature of residential life in the College.  Students serve on College committees and contribute broadly to the life of the College.  With increased academic success and satisfaction with their Sewanee experience, students continue to add to the richness of the College and to the Sewanee community.


By the early 90’s, the work of the Admission’s office led to increases in enrollment of African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American students.  During this period, retention began to rise as well.  New programs such as the Faculty-Mentor Program, the opening of the Ayres Multi-Cultural Center, and summer programs had positive impacts on the lives of the students.  Students structured meaningful College funded internships, research opportunities, traveled abroad to study, or accompanied professors abroad on special research projects.
 
This fall, students of color comprised twelve percent of the freshman class.  The retention rate of students of color for 2006-2007 was ninety-two percent, an increase from eighty-three percent in 2000.  The rate of retention has been better than ninety percent for six years.  During this period, the number of students of color in the College rose from eighty-five to one hundred and forty-five, a historic increase.  This number includes thirty-nine Hispanic Americans, sixty-one African Americans, twenty-six Asian Americans, nine Native Americans, and ten multi-cultural students in a student body of 1,450.  We have thirty-three international students also in the student-body.
 
Students have enjoyed and benefited from the academic experience and special nature of residential life in the College.  Students serve on College committees and contribute broadly to the life of the College.  With increased academic success and satisfaction with their Sewanee experience, students continue to add to the richness of the College and to the Sewanee community.