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University of Maryland Ranks 'Top of Class' for Improving Minority Graduation Rates & Closing the Achievement Gap

December 2, 2015

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618

UMD continues to make strides in underrepresented minority graduation rates,
according to Education Trust report 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has been recognized by the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students, for its improved graduation rates among underrepresented minority students. The report also highlights UMD as a leading institution for decreasing the gap in completion rates between minority and white students.  

The Education Trust report released today looked at the change in six-year graduation rates over the last 10 years among first-time, full-time students at four-year public institutions. The report examined whether those institutions that have increased overall graduation rates also increased graduation rates for underrepresented students and reduced gaps between these students and their white peers. 

“Our campus-wide effort has created a culture of success for all our students,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Our faculty and students have combined academic excellence and diversity with remarkable results.”

According to the report, UMD was among 26 institutions to achieve the dual goal of increasing graduation rates for all students, while also closing gaps between underrepresented minority and white students. Key findings include:

  • UMD's average overall graduation rate as of 2013 was 82.7 percent, a 9.2 percent increase over 10 years. 
  • UMD's average graduation rate for underrepresented minority students as of 2013 was 75.6 percent, a 13.8 percent increase over 10 years. 
  • UMD's 10-year change in gaps between white and underrepresented minority students decreased by 6.1 percent. 

“Our success in increasing minority graduation rates and reducing the achievement gap reflects our commitment to building a fully equitable, diverse and inclusive university,” said Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President at UMD. “We are working diligently to better support marginalized students, to create a campus that is warm and welcoming to all, and to foster teaching, research and creative activities that are relevant to our students and the local, national and international communities that we serve.”

Nearly one fourth of UMD's undergraduates are underrepresented ethnic minorities—one of the highest rates nationally among research universities – and for the past three years, 40 percent or more of freshman classes have identified themselves as students of color. This year, UMD is on track to get even closer to a majority-minority freshman class at 44 percent.

“Leading institutions have shown how leaders can change the culture of their campus to focus on student success,” said Andrew H. Nichols, PhD., Education Trust’s director of higher education research and data analytics and co-author of the report. “They consistently analyze their data, they find troubling trends, they engage faculty to find solutions, and they listen to students and make them part of the problem-solving process.”

UMD has more than two-dozen programs and initiatives designed to support underrepresented student and faculty success, to foster the development of cultural competence in students, staff and faculty, and to create an institutional culture of inclusion. UMD is in its sixth year of the ADVANCE Program for Inclusive Excellence, which supports the retention and advancement of women and underrepresented minority faculty. 

Over four years, the UMD Office of Diversity & Inclusion has funded 40 grants of up to $15,000 through its Moving Maryland Forward program, which supports pilot projects that advance one or more goals in the Strategic Plan for Diversity. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion sponsors an annual "Rise Above 'Isms'" Week to engage the campus community in addressing and transcending stereotypes and structural 'isms'.  "Rise Above" mini-grants of up to $750 support community members in meaningful dialogue around issues of identity, bias and difference. Since the program's launch in 2013, 21 grants have been funded.

Earlier this year, UMD was named one of only 92 universities across the country to receive the 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The HEED Award measures an institution’s level of achievement and commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach; student recruitment, retention and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.

For more information on the Education Trust report, “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?,” visit https://edtrust.org/resource/rising-tide/