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NCCU to Raise Graduation Rates Through National Network

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2016

North Carolina Central University is joining with 10 other higher education institutions in a focused effort to raise college graduation rates for African-American and Latino students.

Today, the Education Trust formally launched OASIS – Optimizing Academic Success and Institutional Strategy, an initiative that brings together 11 minority-serving institutions to help accelerate graduation rates.

“We are energized by the opportunity to join this new initiative for improving education outcomes for all students,” said NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White. “By working together, sharing ideas and proposing solutions, I believe NCCU and our 10 allies in this endeavor will make significant strides in closing the graduation gap that exists for underserved minorities. At NCCU, the six-year graduation rate for our 2008 cohort is 47 percent, compared to the national average of 34 percent. This partnership will be another strong tool for NCCU to use in addressing our No. 1 priority, student success.”

Figures from the U.S. Department of Education show more than a 21 percent gap in graduation rates between African-American and Caucasian students, with Latino rates falling in the middle of the two. About 41 percent of African-American students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared to 62.3 of Caucasians.

OASIS will bring its members together in a concerted effort to examine methods for enhancing student success in areas such as student advising and developmental coursework. These strategies will ultimately be shared with institutions nationwide.

In 2014, NCCU formed the Latino Advisory Committee that works with members of business, education, non-profit and media organizations representing Hispanic communities throughout the Triangle to develop new programs, as well as strengthen existing programs, designed to meet the needs of current and future Latino students.

“We’re honored to work alongside these leading institutions in their efforts to improve retention and graduation rates and to share what we have learned with other colleges and universities across the country,” José Luis Santos, the Education Trust’s vice president of higher education policy and practice, said in an official statement. “We know that institutions that prioritize student success do better. Period.”

The college graduation gap has been stalled for the past decade, shrinking by less than one percent, according to Education Trust figures.

“To help more students achieve their educational dreams, colleges must transform their practices to better serve their students. The OASIS institutions are tackling that challenge head on,” said Bonita J. Brown, Education Trust director of higher education practice.

OASIS members will enlist senior university leaders to work on analyzing data and sharing evidence-based practices that have found success on their campuses. The network includes four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), six Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and one institution that serves a large percentage of African-American students.

The network has support from the Lumina Foundation and is chaired by Dr. Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton.

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