Racial and ethnic minorities represented 17 percent of graduate students at the University of Arizona during the academic year that ended last week, up from 12 percent ten years ago.

Maria Teresa Velez, an associate dean at the graduate college, said the university has prioritized enrolling minority students.

"It was a deliberate campaign on the part of the university to increase diversity and to ensure that diversity and excellence go together," she said.

But there’s still a ways to go, she argued.

"The numbers, although they are good, they don’t quite match either the population of Arizona or the population of the U.S.," she said. "If we’re talking the U.S. population, there should be 35 percent of our graduate students should be underrepresented minorities – that means Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics. Because that’s their representation in the general population."

Since 2002, enrollment for African Americans graduate students increased 70 percent; the Native American grad student population grew 52 percent and enrollment of Hispanics was up 28 percent.