Coastal Carolina University is among the most successful U.S. colleges in reducing racial gaps in graduation rates between African-American and white students, according to a study released this week by the Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that promotes student achievement.
According to the report, African-American students at Coastal Carolina University are graduating at a slightly higher rate than CCU's white students.
The study, based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, included CCU in its list of "Smallest White-Black Graduation-Rate Gaps Among Public Colleges and Universities."
Based on data collected over a three-year period (2006 to 2008), the study found that the graduation rate for black students was 45.3 percent, as compared to 43.7 percent for white students, a difference of 1.6 percent. African-American students make up approximately 11 percent of CCU's student body.
According to the study, the national graduation rate for African-American students at four-year institutions is approximately 20 percentage points below that of their white counterparts. The Education Trust looked at data from 456 colleges and universities to identify institutions that are making progress in improving on the wide racial graduation gap they inherit from the nation's high schools.
"We are very proud of this recognition," said CCU President David A. DeCenzo. "It is a reflection of efforts by this university to engage all of our students by creating an atmosphere that embraces diversity."
DeCenzo cited programs such as Freshman Year Experience, designed to create a sense of community among new students as they transition from high school to college, and the University's Office of Multicultural Student Services, which offers a wide range of programs, clubs and activities that encourage involvement and leadership among minority students.
"This report indicates that we are on the right track, but we can't rest on our laurels," said CCU Provost Robert Sheehan. "Student success is our mission and we have to constantly search for effective ways to support a student body that is increasingly diverse."
Other efforts in place designed to bolster minority student retention rates include scholarships and mentoring programs.