SRU earns national recognition for improved graduation rates


underrepresented graduates

Dec. 2, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has been ranked as one of the top 15 universities in the country for having shown vast improvements in completion rates for all students over the last decade and particularly its success in increasing graduation rates for underrepresented students (African-American, Latino and Native American) and decreasing the gap in completion rates between underrepresented and white students.

The ranking was part of a new Education Trust report, "Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?," which was released today.

SRU's three-year average graduation rate for underrepresented populations is 48.9 percent, which is up 17.4 percent over a 10-year span covering 2003-2013. The three-year average for white students at SRU is 62.8 percent, an increase of 11.2 percent during that same time period.

SRU was one of 26 schools recognized in the report for improving its graduation rate for underrepresented students by 12 or more percentage points, or two times the average increase for the 1,300 institutions in the sample.

"We are pleased to be recognized for the University's success in improving completion rates for all students and particularly for our underrepresented students," said SRU President Cheryl Norton. "This success came about as the result of a lot of hard work on the part of our faculty and staff to strategically approach the challenge and develop workable strategies to help move the needle. The recognition speaks to our commitment to providing all students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences they need to be successful in their lives, their careers and to be better citizens."

According to the report authors, if more institutions are to produce gains in overall completion and also close long-standing gaps between groups, they need to learn from institutions like SRU that are leading the way and showing that the goals of increasing graduation rates for underrepresented students and closing the rate gap between those students and white students is achievable.

In terms of overall completion rates, SRU has a four-year graduation rate of 50.9 percent. The University's six-year graduation rate is 67.5 percent, ranking it first among all schools in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

"Institutional leaders must be intentional about how they support their students of color and how to best guide them to leave with a degree in hand," said Andrew Nichols, The Education Trust's director of higher education research and data analytics and a co-author of the report.

Nichols noted that leading institutions like Slippery Rock University "have shown how leaders can change the culture of their campus to focus on student success. They consistently analyze their data, they find troubling trends, they engage faculty to find solutions, and they listen to students and make them part of the problem-solving process."

The complete report can be found at:

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