Minority-Serving Institutions Are Key to Achieving College-Completion Goals, Report Says

Minority-serving institutions, which enroll 2.3 million students, almost 14 percent of the college-going population, must play a key role if the country is to achieve President Obama's goal that by 2020, the United States will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world, says a report released on Tuesday by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Over the next eight years, the percentage of people of color nationwide is projected to rise to 40 percent, from 31 percent, the report says, and minority-serving institutions, now numbering 431, have long educated underrepresented students. "Thanks to their unique understanding of the students they serve, they are positioned to move the college completion agenda forward in distinct and innovative ways," says the report, the first in a series on minority-serving institutions.

The report stems from a "Models of Success" project run by the policy institute and the Lumina Foundation for Education, which are examining practices and outcomes over three years at eight grant recipients, including Jackson State University, a historically black college in Mississippi, and California State University at Monterey Bay, a Hispanic-serving institution. The eight grantees serve as leaders to a network of more than 25 minority-serving institutions trying to improve and document completion rates.

"Achieving college completion goals will take more than maintaining the status quo," said Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, in a written statement.

The new report, "The Role of Minority-Serving Institutions in National College Completion Goals," highlights the accomplishments of those institutions in educating students in science, technology, engineering, and math; preparing teachers; and promoting transfer from two- to four-year institutions.

"MSIs' continued commitment to broadening opportunities for underrepresented students is not only key to advancing completion goals, but essential to closing the achievement gap," the report says. Minority-serving institutions award 41 percent of all STEM degrees held by African-Americans and 54 percent by Hispanics, it says, and graduate approximately half of people of color with teaching degrees.

The institute plans to focus forthcoming reports on data capacity, developmental education, mobility and transfer, and black male retention.

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

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