Posted November 17, 2011

Diverse magazine ranks Temple in top 10 for African-American graduates

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education has ranked Temple among the top 10 institutions in number of bachelor's degrees granted to African-American students.

The annual ranking, which is based on data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, represents student graduation rates for the 2009-10 school year.

According to Diverse, Temple is No. 9 among 100 American universities in the total number of bachelor's degrees awarded to African-American students. Of the eight universities ahead of Temple, four are historically black institutions and three are online universities.

“National graduation studies show that on average about 56 percent of four-year college students graduate in six years. For African-American students, that figure drops to 41 percent.”

Temple improved its graduation rate among its African-American student body by 6 percent over the previous year, which helped raise the institution’s ranking into the top 10, according to the report.

An improvement in Temple’s academic advising structure is just one of the factors related to the university’s growing graduation rate among African Americans, said Peter Jones, senior vice provost of undergraduate studies.

“Academic advisors are on the front line of the effort to increase our graduation and retention numbers,” said Jones. “Right now, 67 percent of all students graduate in six years and about 24-25 percent drop out in the first year. In an effort to grow our retention numbers, academic advisors meet with undergraduates on a consistent basis to make sure they receive the help they need.”

Advising improvements in the last decade have already yielded significant increases in Temple’s graduation rates, a development that was noted in a recent story in the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Fast Gainers: 4 Ways That Colleges Have Raised Graduation Rates,” Dec. 5, 2010). New initiatives that will help advisors intervene before academic problems emerge, including the Risk-Based Retention Project and the Critical Paths Program, will continue to improve retention and graduation rates, as will President Ann Weaver Hart’s recent commitment to hire more academic advisors and develop more opportunities for their professional growth.

Temple has a reputation for being an attractive option for African-American students across the country.

Misia Denea Cole, a native of Silver Spring, Md., and 2007 Boyer College of Music and Dance graduate, says she remembers hearing about the work of Kariamu Welsh, former chair of the dance department, while she was still in high school.

Welsh and other noted faculty and graduates became the deciding factor in Cole’s decision to enroll in Temple as an undergraduate dance major.

“I wanted to be close to D.C. and still have the experience of going to school in the city,” she said. “I was also intrigued by Philadelphia and the work of artists and faculty like Charles Anderson, Tania Issac and Kariamu Welsh. There seemed to be a very strong and diverse core of students here that I knew I could learn from and collaborate with.”