"Less enthusiastic" recruiting by alumni and admissions personnel caused in part last year's substantial decrease in black applications to Harvard. David L. Evans, associate director of Admissions, said yesterday.
Evans said, however, that he believes renewed efforts to attract blacks to Harvard will pay off this year, increasing to 15 the black percentage in the next freshman class.
A 20 per cent decrease in black applicants last year led to a 13 per cent drop in the number of blacks in the Class of 1977. Seventy-eight blacks registered for the current semester. 11 fewer than last year's count and 21 fewer than two years ago.
Evans is the first member of the Committee on Admissions and Scholarship Aid to publicly attribute the applicant drop to recruiting failures. L. Fred Jewett '57, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, said last spring that the lower number of blacks applying constituted "a signal to us that we've got to get out and work."
Jewett, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said several weeks ago that the decline resulted from "over-confidence in the upward trend of blacks accepted over the past few years."
The Committee has purchased from the Corporation the names of 4000 black high school seniors who have been selected semi-finalists or have received Merit commendations this fall, he said. About half of these blacks will be sent a letter, now being drafted by Evans, which requests that they apply to Harvard.
If 40 to 50 per cent of the letters yield applications--as Evans said they usually do--then the increased black applicant pool would result in a 15 per cent black freshman class next Fall. The present class is six per cent black.
Evans will also visit schools along the East Coast this fall in an attempt to reverse the decline in black applications from high schools in the corridor between and including Boston and Washington. He commented, however, that successful recruiting requires "more than a one-day visit--it requires an ember burning all the time.