According to Thomas Smith, interim executive vice chancellor and provost, in 2013 UCR began a concentrated effort to improve its graduation rates. Since then, the graduation rates have increased by 10%, totaling 76% for a six-year period.
Recent numbers, courtesy of UCR’s Office of Institutional Research, now indicate that the university has surpassed the previously held record in favor of a new one, in which 77.3% of freshmen who entered the university in the year 2014 were able to graduate by 2020 within the span of six years. These six-year graduation rates are notably higher than the national average, as seen in the National Center for Education Statistics, which is currently sitting at approximately 62% for those students from 2012, pursuing a degree at a four-year institution.
In addition, the amount of graduated underrepresented minority students from the class of 2014 has reached near equivalence with non-underrepresented minorities at UCR. The former group includes Black, Latino, American Indian and Pacific Islander students. The six-year graduation rates for all students from the 2014 class are as follows: 81.8% of Asian students, 78.4% of white students, 78.1% of Black students, 73.7% of Latino students and 62.5% of American Indian and Pacific Islander students.
Additionally, UCR is specifically ranked in the top 13% of universities nationwide regarding the number of Black students graduating within six years and in the top 15% for graduating Latino students.
“It’s also impressive when you factor UCR’s high numbers of underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation students,” Smith added. These factors, combined with the higher graduation rates, are a large part of the reason why UCR has also been ranked as the leader in social mobility by the U.S. News & World Report for the last couple years. This measure refers to how well secondary educational institutions help uplift graduates into larger income brackets.
Still, according to Jamal Myrick, director of African Student Programs at UCR, while this is a promising start, the work to increase and improve graduation rates, especially those of underrepresented student groups, is far from over. “You talk about the graduation rate, but do we truly understand how and why these Black scholars are thriving in an environment, that by and large, is not welcoming and unsafe,” he questioned.
Myrick stated that there needs to be more done in order to ensure that Black students and other underrepresented minority students are not just graduating within a certain time frame, but also that they are being supported and uplifted throughout their entire academic journey at UCR.
“This is a great, great accomplishment,” he affirmed, adding, ”I would love to see the university put more backing behind it.”