Study Outlines Path to Increasing Hispanics’ College-Graduation Rates

Study Outlines Path to Increasing Hispanics’ College-Graduation Rates

Distinctive attributes characterize profiled campuses


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Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 18, 2007–Colleges and universities across the country can promote greater academic success among Hispanic students by emulating the practices of 11 public universities with higher-than-average graduation rates for such students, says a new report from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and The Education Trust.

The report of the Hispanic Student Success Study, Promoting Success for Hispanic Students at State Colleges and Universities: Creating Supportive Spaces on Our Campuses, will be released October 20 at the annual conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in Chicago.

“The colleges and universities that participated in this study have identified factors that lead to students’ academic success and graduation, most notably strong presidential leadership and a commitment to an inclusive campus culture,” said Constantine W. (Deno) Curris, president of AASCU.

“Campuses dedicated to access and opportunity can learn significant lessons from their colleagues highlighted in this study.”

The results of the in-depth study demonstrate that any institution “can achieve levels of success for Hispanic students similar to those at the institutions studied, given the proper combination of leadership, programs that recognize the distinctive cultures and academic experiences of Hispanic students, and ‘persistent consistency’ in decision-making,” says the report.

While there is no one program or practice that guarantees high graduation rates for Hispanic students, the study found that successful institutions exhibited “some distinctive characteristics in three areas: mission and culture, student-success programming, and organizational leadership and development.” Together, these formed an amalgam of supports for students across campus that increased retention and graduation rates.

For example, in the area of mission and culture, the report said, the successful institutions highlighted their commitment to Hispanic students’ success in their mission statements and public communications and had recruited a “critical mass” of Hispanic students, one large enough to create a viable “community within a community.”

In the area of student programming, the institutions had created networks to help Hispanic students remain connected to their families and communities, along with on-campus networks encouraging mutual support among Hispanic students. Many institutions also had academic programs in Hispanic studies and special programs for Hispanic students within traditional academic majors.

Regarding leadership, presidents at the institutions overtly emphasized a commitment to Hispanic students’ success and helped bridge the gaps often found between the academic-affairs and student-affairs sectors on campus. Further, the institutions’ leadership not only “devoted unusual attention to recruiting and supporting Hispanic faculty and staff,” the report said, leaders also conducted “substantial faculty and staff development to educate non-Hispanic faculty and staff about Hispanic students’ culture and how to help Hispanic students succeed.”

“We are happy to endorse the publication of AASCU’s Hispanic Student Success study. Its intensive focus on a number of successful institutions underlines the importance of an institutional culture that makes Hispanic students feel at home in the college environment and that expects and supports their academic success. The study will provide much food for thought and institutional conversation among those committed to improving Hispanic recruitment and graduation rates,” said Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Funded by the Lumina Foundation, the student-success study was conducted in spring 2007 by AASCU, a membership organization of more than 430 public four-year colleges and universities and 26 state systems of higher education, and The Education Trust, an independent non-profit organization that works for high academic achievement for students at all levels of education.

Using the Trust’s Web database of federal graduation-rate data, the two organizations identified 11 AASCU institutions that were doing better than their peers in graduating Hispanic students within six years of their initial enrollment in college. Five of the 11 institutions had maintained high graduation rates for Hispanic students over a long period of time, and the other six had shown substantial improvements in Hispanic students’ graduation rates since 2000.

The campuses included urban, rural, large, and small institutions. They were Adams State College (Colo.); Baruch College of the City University of New York; California State University Chico; California State University Northridge; George Mason University (Va.); Humboldt State University (Calif.); Northern Arizona University; the State University of New York, New Paltz; Texas State University, San Marcos; the University of Central Florida, and the University of Texas, Arlington.

More information about the report is available at http://www.aascu.org.

The more than 430 members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) work to extend higher education to all citizens, including those who have been traditionally underrepresented on college campuses. By Delivering America’s Promise, these institutions fulfill the expectations of a public university by working for the public good through education and engagement, thereby improving the lives of people in their community, their region and their state.

Study Outlines Path to Increasing Hispanics’ College-Graduation Rates