Posted on May 11, 2010

Iowa Minority Grad Rates Better

Omaha World-Herald, May 10, 2010

Graduation rates of minority students at Iowa’s three regent universities show improvement over the past 10 years.

Still, minority students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa especially black, Hispanic and American Indian students graduate at lower rates than their white peers, with the biggest gap between black and white students.

Officials say it’s troubling, and the State Board of Regents last month made closing that gap a priority of the new strategic plan. The goal is to close the gap in six-year graduation rates for some minorities by 50 percent at each university by 2016.

“I think all of us would love for there to be no gap,” said Regents President David Miles of West Des Moines, “but what is a goal that is achievable?”

University of Iowa Provost Wallace Loh said cutting the gap in half is doable, with the right programs that better connect students to the university.


The graduation gap is not universal across all minority groups. Asian-American students often have higher rates than white students. The goal for improving the rates applies to black, Hispanic and American Indian students.


The minority graduation gap is a crisis nationally in higher education and before students arrive at college. Nationally, high school grad rates are about 70 percent, but rates for black, Hispanic and low-income students are lower, at slightly more than 50 percent, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


The Black Student Union {snip} wants the university to have mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff and to find ways to get minority students more involved with campus activities and clubs, she said. A chapter of the NAACP also will launch soon, she said.