The committee met a total of seven times during the academic year, with three meetings in the fall semester and four meetings in the spring semester. The committee focused on reviewing efforts being made across campus for undergraduate and graduate recruitment and retention in order to determine areas that work. Our primary sources of data were reports of departmental level information by committee members, presentations by members of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, and data from the Office of Institutional Research Statistical Handbook
Presentations to the committee included:
Common themes and recommendations:
- Dr. Leonard Moore, director of the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, discussed the pipeline of education and the importance of accountability in services (e.g., tutoring)
- Dr. Ge Chen discussed the evaluation of programs in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement
- Dr. Darlene Grant discussed the role of the Graduate School and minority liaison officers in recruitment and retention
- Dr. Ted Gordon, associate vice president for thematic issues, discussed the fellowship program to be initiated by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement in conjunction with the College of Liberal Arts
||Continued need for recruitment
There is a continued need for recruitment efforts at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The numbers of students from diverse backgrounds has increased, but there are still important gaps relative to the Texas school-age population (http://www.schooldatadirect.org). For example, Hispanic students make up 15% of the UT population but approximately 45% of the state school-aged population. African American students make 3.9% of the student population relative to 14.7% of the state school-aged population. American Indian students make up .5% of the population. While this is closer to the state population it is insufficient for a critical mass of students. See Figure 1 based on the Office of Institutional Research Statistical Handbook and <www.census.gov>. There are many University resources that could be used to highlight the importance of higher education across the state. Some ideas include developing campaigns with the advertising department or partnering with the advertising/educational campaigns that are conducted as part of University events.
Figure 1. UT Austin enrollments compared to population breakdown for US and Texas.
Proposed agenda for next year
||The need to recruit a diverse student body is even greater at the graduate level than at the undergraduate level. Graduate classes are much less diverse than undergraduate enrollments. Graduate students are critically important because they serve as role models for undergraduate students (even when they do not interact directly with them). Furthermore, graduate students will help diversify the work force and may ultimately refer a more diverse student body to the University. Departments can play a key role in student recruitment with the support of Minority Liaison Officers and by educating the admissions committees about student recruitment and diversity. The Graduate School is offering a program to educate students about the graduate school application process (e.g., writing statement of purpose) and provide a short GRE review.
||Need for retention and advancement
Consistent with the theme, “What starts here changes the world,” it is necessary that students graduate to have this impact. Students from diverse backgrounds are at greater risk not to graduate than their white peers (e.g., Horn & Carroll, 2006) and may need additional academic support as well as financial support in order to achieve this goal. Data from the Hispanic Scholarship fund report show that students who receive financial support are more likely to complete their undergraduate degrees. At the college or departmental level, student programs can be used to support student retention and advancement. More senior students and advanced undergraduates can mentor less advanced undergraduates. Student organizations may also help serve this purpose informally. Graduate students mentoring programs can also play a role in retention.
Funding is key to success at all levels. At the undergraduate level, we need to find alternative sources of funding to facilitate sufficient funding that will increase the likelihood of degree completion. Adding this goal to the Capital Campaign would be one potential source of alternative funding. One impediment to students seeking outside funding for their education is the inadvertent costs that occur. An example is that students who receive outside funding in the form of scholarships may lose university grants. Another challenge is that students who get outside sources of funding lose eligibility for University-sponsored insurance.
At the graduate level, it is important to provide funding packages that will support the student for sufficient time to progress in their graduate programs. Graduate school recruitment fellowships bring students to the university but departments have differential abilities to provide later funding. The division for Diversity and Community Engagement is introducing a program that will provide for five years of funding. While this program will fund fewer students, it is has the potential to facilitate the retention of the students receiving these awards because they will be able to focus more on their studies.
- Collect student exit surveys with the goal of understanding factors that contribute to retention/advancement at UT Austin
- Identify mentoring programs
- Put forth proposal to add advancement to our committee title and mission
It is important to increase faculty and student engagement in the work of this committee given that work across the University is needed to increase recruitment, retention, and advancement of a diverse student body and faculty. It is also important that this committee work in partnership with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
There is a tradeoff in terms of committee membership. Ideally, this committee would be larger and have more representation. However, it may become even more challenging to have meetings as the committee gets larger.
The committee recommended that Lisa Bedore continue as chair next year. A final decision will be made at the first fall meeting.
Horn, L. & Carroll, C.D, (2006) Placing college graduation rates in context.