- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) - The U.S. Military Academy expects to welcome a record-high number of women when the incoming class reports next week.

West Point announced Monday that of the 1,200 cadet candidates expected to arrive July 2 for Reception Day, 263 will be women, or 22 percent. Females had made up 16 percent of all West Point cadets this spring.

West Point officials have been taking steps to integrate more women into the academy, in part to prepare for when the Army opens thousands of combat positions to both sexes by 2016. Officials at the storied academy on the Hudson River have stepped up outreach to female high school students and done more to cultivate competitive candidates.

The previous record for incoming females was 245, set in the summer of 2010.

West Point said minority enrollment for the incoming class of 2018 is about 33 percent, including 166 African-Americans, 95 Asian-Americans, 118 Hispanic-Americans and 19 Native Americans.

“The class of 2018 brings in record numbers of women, minorities and designated scholars which makes it the most competitive and diverse class ever to enter West Point,” said Col. Deborah McDonald, director of admissions.

The new arrivals must undergo six weeks of intense training before they are formally accepted into the Corps of Cadets.