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Sept. 9, 2002 -- No. 468

Journal gives UNC high marks in integration of blacks on campus

CHAPEL HILL -- The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill first among public universities and sixth overall in nationwide measures of institutional racial integration, including recruitment of black faculty and students.

In recent years, Carolina "has made a concerted effort to increase the level of black students and black faculty on campus," the journalís Sept. 9 issue reported. "The university is particularly strong in the categories dealing with student diversity Ö (UNC) ranked second in the percentage of total black enrollments and first in the percentage of black freshmen.

"Chapel Hill also fares well in most measures of black faculty. The university has nine African-American faculty members who hold endowed chairs. This is the highest number in the United States."

UNC placed behind Duke, Emory, Princeton and Vanderbilt universities and Washington University in St. Louis in the journal's rankings, based totally on quantitative data. Following UNC were Georgetown and Harvard universities, the University of Virginia and Brown University.

The journal ranked only 26 universities, those it considers to be America's leading, most selective institutions and role models for the nation's 3,000 four-year campuses.

"This is a result of a concerted effort to do extensive outreach and recruitment activities on our campus," said Dr. Archie Ervin, an assistant to the chancellor at UNC and director of the Office of Minority Affairs. "In addition both the chancellor and the provost are committed to diversity, and our campus presents a much more inviting climate for African-Americans when the leadership is speaking out about this and putting resources behind it."

Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little, UNCís executive associate provost, said, "We are pleased to see this recognition of our past and continuing efforts to bring to the university the best students and faculty from diverse groups, and to create a community in which they thrive."

The journal gave each university a score between 50 and 100 in 13 widely accepted quantitative measures of institutional racial integration, including the percentages of black students and faculty. Data came from government sources and the journalís own information-gathering efforts.

The scores were added, and the total was divided by the number of categories for which the journal had information for that university. Carolina scored 81.69, compared with the top score of 90.36. The article said that UNC would have scored higher except for "a very low black student graduation rate of 66 percent and a large racial gap in graduation rates between whites and blacks."

But UNC compared favorably in black graduation rates with the 62 other research campuses in the American Association of Universities. Of black freshmen at UNC in 1997, half graduated in four years, compared with a 21-percent average for all AAU campuses; 68 percent in five years, to 40 percent for all AAU schools; and 62 percent in six years, compared with 48 percent for AAU.

Percentages of blacks graduating from UNC in four years rose from 50 percent to near the top of the 50th percentile from 1995 to 1996, while rates for whites rose slightly near the top of the 60th.

"Actually, 66 percent is a very good graduation rate among our peers and is likely well above the graduation rate for all students among public research universities," said Dr. Jerry Lucido, vice provost for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions.

In the AAU comparison, graduation rates for students beginning in 1997 were 68 percent in four years at Carolina, compared with a 40 percent average for all AAU campuses; 78 percent in five years at UNC, compared with a 63 percent average; and 82 percent in six years at UNC, compared with a 67 percent average.

UNC also has posted strong retention rates among minority students -- defined by freshmen returning as sophomores. "Last year, our retention rate for all minority students was 95 percent, the same as the rate for all students," Lucido said.

For the freshman class beginning this fall, 2,068 black students applied, up from the previous year. African-Americans make up a larger share of this yearís freshmen, 12.6 percent, up a percentage point from last year. In each of the last three years, the number of black students enrolling as freshmen has increased.

In a separate survey earlier this year, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education listed Carolina among four highly ranked universities with 100 or more black professors, showing that UNC has the most tenured black faculty, 51, among top universities.

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Note: The journal article is available online at http://www.jbhe.com/features/36_leading_universities.html

Contact: Mike McFarland, (919) 962-8589