ERIC Identifier: ED308795
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Richardson, Richard C., Jr. - de los Santos, Alfredo G., Jr.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.
Helping Minority Students Graduate from College--A
Comprehensive Approach. ERIC Digest.
Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians remain less likely to graduate from
college than other Americans. This national failure undermines the foundations
of a free society, interferes with efforts to build a competitive work force,
and raise doubts about our educational system's capacity to respond to oncoming
This persistent and serious problem is solvable if concerned institutions use
a comprehensive approach. Implementing only one or two of the following
principles will not suffice. To successfully remove race and ethnicity as
factors in college completion, institutions must attempt all ten.
The principles below are supported by a three-year national study of ten
predominately white colleges and universities that have achieved success in
graduating minority students over ten or more years. The success stories related
here are from that study, undertaken by the National Center for Postsecondary
Governance and Finance and funded by the Office of Educational Research and
Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education.
ANNOUNCE YOUR PRIORITIES
Colleges and universities that
publicly announce their goal of eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in
degree achievement will make clear their firm commitment to educational
Success story: Improved participation and graduation rates for blacks is a
top priority at Florida State University. This was publicized in the annual
President's Report to the Faculty and demonstrated by appointment of affirmative
action supporters to strategic posts. Annual plans and progress reports on
minority student admissions, employment opportunities, and support programs are
publicized by each academic unit as well.
BACK YOUR PRIORITIES
Spending an institution's
discretionary dollars to recruit, retain, and graduate minority students will
communicate seriousness. Limiting participation to students eligible according
to state or federal guidelines, or terminating programs when external funds are
withdrawn, advertises a conditional commitment to equal educational opportunity.
Success story: The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has
integrated federal programs and state equal opportunity equivalents into its
undergraduate admissions program and into its academic advancement program.
University discretionary dollars for these efforts exceed state and federal
EMPLOY MINORITY LEADERS
Employing minorities in senior
leadership positions sends a clear message about the value of cultural diversity
among professional staff.
Success story: In the past decade, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
has doubled it enrollment of Hispanics, who are now a slight majority of the
student body. Community support and fiscal commitment to UTEP have also
increased, due in part to strong minority leadership. UTEP's dean of students,
its dean of the College of Science, and its directors of financial aid and
admissions are all minority leaders.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Focused strategies to increase minority
opportunity are most likely devised by institutions that collect detailed
information on minority and non-minority undergraduate achievement patterns.
Success story: Florida International University (FIU) in Miami has collected
information on enrollment and retention by race, ethnicity, and transfer status
for over ten years of rapid change. By analyzing student performance, FIU can
focus resources where most needed and obtain high graduation rates for its
urban, largely commuting population.
PROVIDE COMPREHENSIVE SUPPORT SERVICES
committed to equality will provide integrated and comprehensive support services
and will take a proactive role in providing financial aid.
Success story: California State University at Dominguez Hills serves a
diverse student population. Students in the affirmative action and equal
opportunity programs now show retention and graduation rates that compare
favorably with the general student body. Cal State intensified its support
staff's efforts while increasing faculty responsibility for advising,
recruiting, admitting, and referring students.
Educational quality has too often been
defined as a function of those excluded, while selective institutions have too
often excluded minorities disproportionately. A quality education must include
diversity--but not at the expense of rigor and excellence. Minority students
need high-quality educations.
Success story: A 1986 Time article described Brooklyn College as "fast rising
and ambitious...providing a first class education at fourth class prices."
Brooklyn College's student body, almost one-third black and Hispanic, graduates
students proportionately. All students must complete ten rigorous core courses
aimed at "cultivating the intellect and imagination and at developing general
mental rather than vocational skills."
REACH OUT TO COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, AGENCIES, AND BUSINESSES?
community-wide effort can raise minority students' aspirations and academic
preparation. Elementary and high school students need role models, demystifying
campus contacts, and adequate financial aid information. Community colleges and
four-year programs should ensure maximum transfer of credits. Influential
churches and businesses in minority communities should offer motivation and
Success story: Temple University's "Temple Mile" program includes high
schools, grade schools, community groups, and nonprofit agencies within a
one-mile radius of the campus. Thanks in part to this program, Temple has seen a
dramatic rise in enrollment of black students in many fields not traditionally
selected by minority youths.
BRIDGE THE EDUCATIONAL GAPS
Bridge programs include
extended classes covering required material, tutoring, learning laboratories,
collaborative study groups, and intrusive advising. They should be afforded to
underprepared students--the most vulnerable to academic failure.
Success story: Wayne State University (WSU) offers an outreach program for
students ineligible for regular admission. After completing twenty-four to
thirty university credits in special-format classes, these students may transfer
to other colleges within the university. WSU also admits 350 marginally prepared
students yearly and supports them for three years with summer bridge programs,
skills instruction, and tutoring. Their graduation rate exceeds that of many
regularly admitted groups of students at WSU and other urban universities.
REWARD GOOD TEACHING AND DIVERSIFY YOUR FACULTY
institutions cultivate minority professor by mentoring graduate students or
junior faculty members and by supporting them in additional graduate training.
Rewards, tenure, and promotions should be awarded for good
teaching--characterized by caring, mentoring, sensitivity to cultural
differences, and high expectations for all students.
Success story: Memphis State University (MSU) has a significant gap between
its proportion of black students and its few black faculty. MSU thus creates a
position for any department recruiting a qualified black candidate. MSU's
recruiting program pays moving expenses, gives released time from teaching, and
pays a salary differential. Exceptional black doctoral candidates at MSU are
offered support, provided they accept faculty appointments at the university.
CONSTRUCT A NONTHREATENING SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
racism can hamper the progress of minority students, even in those who are
best-prepared academically. Discrimination, harassment, and low expectations for
minorities must be eliminated. Proportional representation is essential in
helping minority groups retain their sense of cultural identity and avoid
isolation. If needed, proportional representation should be supplemented by
special programs, services, and facilities.
Success story: Hispanic and American Indian graduates at The University of
New Mexico (UNM) describe campus friendships as a function of location or
discipline rather than race or ethnicity. Minorities comprise forty percent of
UNM's enrollment. UNM successfully educates and graduates minority student who
are respected and well-accepted within a multicultural state and community.
Order ERIC documents by "ED" number
from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service, 3900 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, VA
22304. Call 1-800-227-ERIC.
American Council on Education. 1988. Handbook on Minority Participation in Higher Education, Washington, D.C. ACE.
American Council on Education and Education Commission of the States. 1988. One-Third of a Nation: A Report of the Commission on Minority Participation in Education and American Life. Washington, D.C. and Denver; ACE and ECS. ED 297 057.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Board of Trustees. 1988. An Imperiled Generation: Saving Urban Schools. Princeton; CFATBT. ED 293 940.
Education Commission of the States and State Higher Education Executive Officers. 1987. Focus on Minorities: Synopsis of State Higher Education Initiatives. Denver; ECS and SHEEO. ED 287 403.
Haycock, Kati, and M. Susana Navarro. 1988. The Unfinished Business: Fulfilling Our Children's Promise. A Report from the Achievement Council, Oakland, California. The Council. ED 299 025.
Mingle, James R. 1987. Focus on Minorities, Trends in Higher Education Participation and Success. A joint publication of the Higher Education Executive Officers. Denver, Colorado. ECS and SHEEO. ED 287 404.
State Higher Education Executive Officers. 1987. A Difference of Degrees: State Initiatives to Improve Minority Student Achievement. Report and Recommendations of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Task Force on Minority Student Achievement. Boulder, Colorado: SHEEO. ED 287 355.
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. 1987. From Minority to Majority--Education and the Future of the Southwest: A Report and Recommendations by the WICHE Regional PolicyCommittee on Minorities in Higher Education. Boulder, Colorado: WICHE. ED 287 428.