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Stepped-up recruiting is credited for a significant increase in African-American applications and admissions to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, its chief academic officer said Thursday.

Based on the numbers, the university could have its largest first-year African American enrollment ever this fall, Dr. John G. Peters, UT-Knoxville provost, said.

Applications by African American students are up more than 100 percent from five years ago. The increase of African American students admitted to UT-Knoxville is up 120 percent.

Peters said UT-Knoxville has significantly increased its recruiting efforts in the Memphis and Nashville metropolitan areas.

”We have worked extremely hard to increase the number of African-American students on campus,” Peters said. ”We have a full-time recruiter in the Memphis area, and we have greatly increased our efforts in Nashville.

”The work of the entire admissions staff, the African American Achievers Scholarship, and increased recognition that UT-Knoxville is a good educational investment are the main reasons for this positive trend.”

For the fall 1999 freshman class, 1,164 African American students applied for admission and 763 have been admitted. The numbers for fall 1994 were 563 and 346 respectively.

Enrollment of African American, first-time students jumped 86 percent from 1994 to 1998, Peters said.

From the metropolitan Nashville area, UT-Knoxville has received 140 applications and admitted 109 African American students for fall semester, which begins in August. Six years ago, the numbers were 64 and 39 respectively.

A total of 359 Shelby County students have applied and 260 have been admitted. Those numbers grew from 139 and 96 in 1994.