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Degree Completion & Retention Plan

DCR Plan

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Factor 6: Students of Color

Eastern Michigan University is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse institutions in the Midwest. In the past 20 years, the cultural demographics of our student population have changed dramatically, especially among Black and Latino students.  From 1992 to 2012, the number of Hispanic/Latino students increased almost 126% from 320 to 723.  Black/African-American students have increased almost 159% from 1,822 to 4,717.  Unfortunately, despite this increase, we have not learned how to ensure that these students earn degrees at the same rate as their White/Caucasian counterparts.  In fact, our retention and graduation rates provide evidence that disparities still persist across student groups.

On average, students of color persist and complete college at much lower rates than the national average.  At EMU, first year retention rates for all students have decreased from 76.46% to 75.27% since Fall 2009. During that time, retention rates for White/Caucasian students overall and White males specifically have increased slightly from 76.66% to 77.94% and from 75.37% to 76.73% respectively.  On the contrary, first year retention rates tell a different story for students of color at EMU.  By far, first year retention rates are the lowest for Native American students, but since their cohort numbers are so low, this report will focus primarily on Hispanic/Latino and Black/African-American students.  Hispanic/Latino students have an overall first year retention rate of 72.1% since Fall 2009.  Although rates for Hispanic/Latino males increased by 13% (56% to 69%), they remain too low.  Rates for all Black/African-American students have decreased by 6% from 77% to 71% since 2009.  Likewise, Black male first year retention has decreased by 4% from 74% to 70% during the same period. The concern is magnified by the steadily increasing proportion of Black freshmen among incoming students.

According to Cuyjet (2006), Harper (2006a) and Strayhorn (2010), Black male completion rates are the lowest among both sexes and all racial and ethnic groups in U.S. higher education at 33.3% in 6 years. Based on EMU IRIM data for the incoming classes of Fall 2004 - 2006, the 6-year graduation rate for Black males is even lower (average 18.65%).  In comparison, average rates for all males and White males over that period of time are 33.23% and 38.16% respectively.

Recommended Key Actions:

1. Appoint a person to lead the assessment of academic, personal development, and social needs of students of color. The person should also lead efforts to address these needs both through the identification of internal resources and obtaining outside contributions and support.  This person would also spur efforts to more effectively collect, examine and utilize data to drive program creation, implementation and maximization of resources (disaggregate data).

2. Attention should be given (but not limited to) the following services designed to support students of color:
Summer Transition Programs, New Student Orientation sessions, Freshman Seminar Course, Living Learning Residential Community, Block Courses and Curriculums, Early Alert Warning System and Referral Service, Academic Support Services, Tiered mentoring program, Graduation Ceremony, developmental and mentoring program for students of color.

3. Explore ways to connect and possibly grow current programs across the university that serve this population of students. Current programs encompass a wide variety of classroom based efforts from faculty, Student Affairs and departmental programming, student groups, and other efforts.  EMU should find a way to list and advertise these programs in a coordinated fashion and expand into areas where new programs might succeed.

4. Conduct a comprehensive needs analysis for programs and support services for students of color on campus. The analysis would evaluate the current programmatic focus of the Center for Multicultural Affairs, evaluate opportunities to expand current efforts for transfer students who are students of color, provide more on-campus work opportunities for students of color, assess the effectiveness of current programs and services in helping students of color persist and graduate and graduating students of color, examine the staffing and resources of current offices and programs that serve students of color, gather data from students of color about their perception of the university and its campus climate.

5. Construct an academic profile of students of color who succeed and do not succeed in completing their education at EMU. The profile would include an analysis of the point at which students of color tend to leave and identifying any early indicators of when students of color begin to disengage from the academic challenge.

Degree Completion & Retention Plan, Academic & Student Affairs, 106 Welch Hall 734.487.3200