BATON ROUGE – Education Trust’s newest paper – “Rising Tide II: Do Black Students Benefit as Grad Rates Increase?” – finds that LSU is one of only 53 universities in the country recognized for its work in improving graduation rates for black students.
“This news underscores LSU’s commitment to increasing African American student access to and success at our university,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Programs like our Black Male Leadership Initiative and units such as our Office of Diversity are just a few of our specific efforts focused on supporting African American and other students of diverse backgrounds, but every member of our faculty and staff have played a role in this achievement. There is still room for improvement, and we will use this milestone as momentum, but we should always take a moment to mark how far we’ve come.”
LSU increased graduation rates among African-American students by 9.5 percent from 2003-2013, and also narrowed the completion gap between white and black students by 2.3 percent.
“We applaud the leadership at Louisiana State University for working to improve graduation rates for black students — and close gaps between white and black students — over the last decade and have highlighted your institution for pointedly addressing completion among black students as an example for others to follow,” said José Luis Santos, vice president of higher education policy and practice at Ed Trust, in an email to Alexander. “We look forward to seeing improved progress over the next few years.”
Three universities in Louisiana made the list, but LSU has by far the highest African American graduation rate in the state. LSU is one of only three SEC schools, along with Arkansas and South Carolina, listed for raising graduation rates among black students and narrowing gaps. LSU is also among 14 public flagships included.
Since 2009, LSU’s overall African-American enrollment rose by 51 percent, and the proportion of the student body identifying as African American increased from 8.8 percent to 11.7 percent. The university’s record-setting spring and fall 2015 graduation classes included the most degrees ever awarded to African-American students in any spring or fall commencement ceremony in the university’s history. LSU has also been recognized in the past as the top university in the nation in granting Ph.D. degrees in chemistry to women and underrepresented minority students.
“Institutional leaders can’t be satisfied with overall gains — or even just with any increase for black students,” Santos said. “Leaders must strive for accelerated gains among black students so they can catch up to their peers. Thankfully, there are institutions across the country that are showing the way forward.”
This is the second of two research papers looking at the graduation rates of traditionally underserved minority students. The first report – “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?” – was released in December 2015 and examined the graduation rates of Latino, Native, African American and white students.
Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations