BATON ROUGE — LSU officials say the freshman class this fall has the highest average ACT score and highest average grade point average in the university’s history.
The student body, as a whole, is also LSU’s most diverse ever — with 5.3 percent of its more than 30,000 students identifying as Hispanic, 11.2 percent as African-American, 3.5 percent as Asian and 2.2 percent as two or more races.
“I think we’re appealing to more students with more diverse backgrounds,” President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said in an interview with The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1yb2cHs) this week.
For Alexander, who came to LSU from California State University at Long Beach a year ago, the stats are important — making LSU more diverse while also striving to improve its academic standing.
When he first came to LSU, he said he had questions about outreach to Hispanics and African-Americans, in particular.
“The country is changing,” Alexander said. “The country is looking more like the (United Nations), and we want to be aligned with that.”
It presents a clear shift from the history of LSU — the state’s largest public university.
LSU traditionally has been whiter than Louisiana as a whole. The university’s first black undergraduate enrolled in 1953, but it was another decade before the first group of black students enrolled on the undergraduate level.
About 63.5 percent of the state’s population identifies as white today, based on Census figures. But — even with its record diversity this year — LSU’s student body remains about 75 percent white.
“We’re doing some real gangbusters things there, and we’re real proud of that,” said Dereck Rovaris, who became LSU’s vice provost for diversity in May. “It’s the direction we want to go, but we’re not anywhere we need to be.”
Rovaris noted that the state saw a jump in its Hispanic population during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina — creating a potential student population that, otherwise, hadn’t fully been tapped into. The Hispanic makeup of this year’s student body at LSU is 14.4 percent higher than it was last year.