U.Va. Maintains Highest Black Student Graduation Rate of All Public Universities

Jan. 11, 2007 -- The University of Virginia continues to have the highest graduation rate for African-American students of any public university in the country. In its annual report, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education says that U.Va.’s graduation rate of 87 percent puts it ahead “by a large margin.”

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the State University of New York-Binghamton, with 72 percent rates, come in next on the list of flagship state universities. The national black student graduation rate in six years’ time is 43 percent.

Virginia is the only public institution in the top 20 and achieves the highest graduation rate among public schools for the 13th straight year.

Nine private universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia and Brown, and four liberal arts colleges, such as Amherst, Wellesley and Williams, graduate an equal or higher percentage of their African-American students — between 87 percent and 95 percent. Among this group, only Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. are not in the northeast.

The journal pulls out the group of public universities, because three-fourths of African-American students attending college go to them.

At U.Va. Dr. Maurice Apprey, interim dean of the Office of African-American Affairs, credits “a total institutional effort” for the school’s success.

“Scholarship and commitment from faculty and administration sustain the rich environment of learning, and the Office of African-American Affairs translates this commitment into programs that deliver. ... Faculty mentoring, peer advising and cultural programs converge to bring about our success,” he said.

“While we are encouraged by these results, we will continue to fine-tune our methods, as well as maintain and expand our gains," Apprey added.

That fine-tuning includes increasing the number of minority students who go into the professions, such as commerce, medicine and academic graduate programs, and who choose other areas like foreign affairs and diplomacy, Apprey said.

Another recent addition to the University’s efforts to create a more diverse institution is the creation of the Office for Diversity and Equity. Just finishing its first year, the office’s vice president and chief officer, William Harvey, has launched a national annual conference and speaker series, and is leading his first January-term class on the culture and education system of Ghana — in Ghana.

Both Apprey and Dr. Marcus Martin, interim assistant vice president in the new office, said the process begins with recruitment and admissions.

“The ranking of No. 1 for the African-American student graduation rate at U.Va. is a great distinction and there are many great students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni to thank for their contribution to this success," Martin said. People and programs emphasize “a sense of belonging fostered at U.Va.” he said.

A copy of the full report, “Black Student College Graduation Rates Inch Higher But a Large Racial Gap Persists,” is available online at http://www.jbhe.com/preview/winter07preview.html.