Eastern Scores High on National Study of African-American College Students

Eastern Connecticut State University has received high marks in a national study of how well America’s public colleges and universities are enrolling and serving African American students.

In “Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities: A 50-State Report Card” recently published by the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California (USC), researchers Shaun Harper and Isiah Simmons used a Ford Foundation grant to examine 506 separate institutions. In all, approximately 900,000 African American students attend U.S. public colleges and universities.

Eastern was tied for first in Connecticut for its overall “equity” rating. While the national “equity” average for all colleges and universities examined was 2.02 and Connecticut’s average across its public institutions was 2.19, Eastern’s rating was 2.75.

The rating takes into account enrollment, gender equity, graduation rates and faculty ratios in compiling totals.

Eastern was first among all Connecticut public universities when it comes to gender equity, with 2.8 percent more African American males enrolled than the national average. This is significant as all institutions of higher education continue to find that male students are enrolling in lower numbers than female students.

In addition, while the average four-year graduation rate for African American students is 39 percent across the United States, 46 percent of African American students at Eastern graduate in four years, tops in the Connecticut State University System. Eastern was also the top Connecticut State University when it comes to having African Americans on the faculty, with a student/faculty ratio of 24:1-one African American professor for every 24 African American students.

“Eastern Connecticut State University has always prided itself on maintaining high academic standards while providing access to students from all walks of life,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Our first African American student graduated in 1908; our first African American professor-Juliette Burstermann-was hired as a member of the faculty in 1948.

“Today, as the numbers in the USC study illustrate, Eastern has a diverse faculty, is graduating African American students well above the national average and has an overall ‘equity rating’ that is tops in Connecticut.

“Eastern’s academic and support services are available to all students, and we work hard to respect each student’s talents and dreams. We also recognize the importance of supporting the success of minority students, students from low-income families and first-generation students. This latest study is clear proof that we are fulfilling that commitment.”

Written by Ed Osborn