Advertising and marketing programs at universities have seen a slight increase in the number of students of color in the last five to 10 years, school administrators across the country say.
"When I was shaking hands at graduation two years ago, I noticed that there were several minorities in line," says Kim B. Rotzoll, dean of the College of Communications at the University of Illinois. "It was a pleasant surprise."
Mr. Rotzoll found that 24% of the school's 1995 class were cultural minorities, a number that remained the same in 1996.
The school has a high minority student ratio because of constant recruiting efforts, administrators say; they include scholarships, internships and mentoring.
INCREASE IN TEXAS
Recruiting also has helped boost the number of minority students over the last 10 years at the University of Texas, says John H. Murphy, professor in the advertising department. Of the school's 800 students, 18% are minority, with 13% being Latino.
A major factor in the university's increase in minority students is the "Minority Introduction to Communications" program, which recruits 50 high-school juniors to take advertising classes.
One program at Michigan State University that's worked well for the last 10 years is its "Minorities in Communication Arts and Sciences Midwest Conference," a forum that benefits students by bringing together educators and major agencies, such as Bozell Worldwide, Y&R Advertising and J. Walter Thompson USA.
"Immediate job placement is not always the benefit, but in the long run it will benefit the company," says Larry Redd, the director of the conference.
About 8% of Michigan State's 750 undergraduate and graduate advertising students are minorities.
Educators also cited internship programs as a significant tool for preparing students for the marketing industry.
The American Advertising Federation has in recent years sponsored several events, including a program to select 25 most promising minority students in advertising (see story on Page S-16). Also, an internship program sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies last year placed 60 students in agencies nationwide.
Although recruiting, scholarships and internships are important for increasing the number of minority students in advertising, educators want agencies to be more active at the school level.
Many university administrators say there are plenty of skilled students of color ready for advertising and marketing jobs, but companies aren't making the efforts to find them.
'"Companies need to stop talking about getting people interested and start talking about getting people hired," says Mr. Rotzoll, a n AAF board member.
"Companies come to campus painting such a bleak picture it's hard to combat," says Ron Lane, a professor of advertising at the University of Georgia.
According to Mr. Lane, about 8% of the 170 students in his program are minorities, mainly Asian-American.
Although attracting minorities to study marketing at most universities has been a slow uphill climb, Howard University's advertising program averages 35 students who have no problem getting placed in jobs, says Barbara Bealor Hines, journalism department chairwoman.
Howard, which in 1988 became the first historically black college to develop an advertising program, partners with several media organizations and ad agencies, and has sponsored a communications conference and job fairs for 23 years.
Placement for advertising students is high, Ms. Hines says, because Howard is one of the first places agencies look for minority students.
Mr. Lane says the word is getting around to students of color that the advertising and marketing field is a viable career, but the process is slow.