The U.S. Naval Academy is looking to increase by at least half the proportion of black and Hispanic midshipmen over the next decade as part of the Navy's efforts to dramatically increase its numbers of minority officers.
Slightly more than 7 percent of the 4,200 midshipmen are black and a little more than 6 percent are Hispanic. Academy officials hope to push those figures to 10 or 12 percent in each category, John W. Renard, the academy's dean of admissions and a retired Navy captain, said yesterday.
"I think it's going to be a challenge," he said. "I feel comfortable that we'll be able to get there."
The Naval Academy has about 4.4 percent Asian-American and Native American midshipmen, which is roughly the percentage of officers the Navy hopes to attain by the turn of the century.
Navy Secretary John Dalton, a 1964 academy graduate, has announced plans to make sure the Navy's officer corps reflects the racial diversity of the nation by 2005.
"The armed services are viewed today as a leader in equal opportunity," Mr. Dalton said in a statement. "To build on our current successes, the Navy's accession plan and goals will be restructured to better reflect the society of the next century."
The Navy said government projections estimate that by the turn of the century, about 12 percent of the U.S. population will be black, 12 percent Hispanic and 5 percent will be Asian-Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.
Currently the Navy officer corps is 5 percent black, 3 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian-Pacific Islander and Native American.
About 8 percent of this year's graduating class was black and 8 percent was Hispanic. About 5 percent of the graduates were Asian-American or Native American, Mr. Renard said.
The dean said academy officials were devising a plan to attract more minority students. "The biggest thing is an awareness that the Navy is hiring," he said.
To get the word out, the academy plans to double its number of minority field recruiters, from three to six, and add more cities.
The recruiters operate in Houston, Oakland, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla. The academy would add New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Naval Academy also may increase the number of students at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I. About 200 students now take the 10-month remedial program before being admitted to the Naval Academy. About 50 percent of the black midshipmen and 30 percent of Hispanic students at the academy have attended the preparatory school.
The Navy said its effort would include "new and creative recruiting and marketing techniques."