Mason named one of the top institutions for graduating black students
BY KELAYAH DICKERSON
The Education Trust recently released a report that named Mason as a university with one of the highest black student graduation rates in the country.
The Education Trust is an advocacy group for the high academic achievement of all students, but it has a particular interest in students of color or those living in poverty. According to the group’s report, graduation rates across the U.S. are generally 22 percent lower for underrepresented minorities, which in this case are African Americans and Hispanics, than their white peers.
However, this report showed that Mason has higher graduation rates than average for underrepresented minorities, with African American students graduating at about the same rate as white students. Mason was on the list of the 18 top-performing institutions, with graduation rates for African American students just 0.3 percent behind white students.
Some other colleges that had a small graduation gap between whites and minorities include Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University.
The Education Trust study, A Look at Black Students’ Success: Identifying Top and Bottom-Performing Institutions, examined black graduation rates. The study stated that Mason graduated 65.9 percent of its black students from 2012-2014. It also compared Mason with another institution of higher education that is similar in rigor, the University of Kansas, and the study showed that Mason had twice the number of full-time African-American freshmen, and their graduation rates were more than 20 points higher.
“It’s the idea that we go out and find talent, no matter what the socioeconomic background, what financial background, then we make sure they are ready for college,” Vice President for Mason’s Enrollment Management David Burge said in a News at Mason article.
Burge, whose job at Mason is to make sure each student is on track with the requirements needed to graduate with their intended degree, said Mason is known for its diverse student body. He added that minority students make up more than 50 percent of the student body.
“You can authentically say we are a diverse place,” Burge said. “[Students] look around and they see a healthy community.”
Mason has several programs that offer minorities, especially those of a lower income, the resources and support they need to graduate. Some of these programs include the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education and University Life. The Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education’s mission is to create and sustain an inclusive learning environment where all members of the Mason study body are welcomed, valued and supported. According to their website, University Life is a group committed to student growth and success.
“Mason is intensely, globally diverse, as nearly every student who comes to the university is going to find a cohort of students they can see themselves fitting into. This reality is virtually impossible to replicate,” Andrew Flagel, former dean of admissions at Mason, said in a press release on Mason’s Media and Public Relations website. “The fact that minority students feel such comfort at Mason contributes greatly to the statistics that show African-American students graduating at a higher rate.”