Nationwide, among students who begin at four-year institutions, six-year graduation rates for white students are more than 20 points greater than for African-American and 11 points greater than for Latino students.
To address the gap, Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García and José L. Cruz, provost and vice president for academic affairs, are co-chairing a new network sponsored by The Education Trust: OASIS, Optimizing Academic Success and Institutional Strategy. The initiative mobilizes 11 regional, comprehensive institutions that serve large populations of underrepresented students to collectively achieve their shared goal of improving graduation rates.
The network will enable senior university leaders to work together to analyze each college’s data, share insights and expand the use of evidence-based practices on their campuses.
“Cal State Fullerton recognizes the moral imperative to increase graduation rates and narrow achievement gaps for what is fast becoming ‘the new majority,’” said García. “Rather than addressing this responsibility in isolation, we, along with our OASIS partners, believe we can harness the power of our collective knowledge to better provide equitable access to higher education for our diverse students, thereby transforming their lives, their family legacies and the public good of the communities they call home.”
Cal State Fullerton, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), has a better track record than most. In fact, the University is ranked No. 5 in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees to underrepresented students. It has been noted as a “model campus” for its explicit goal to cut in half the achievement gap between underrepresented students and their non-underrepresented peers: in 2015, this gap dropped from 12 to 9 percent and was accomplished by adopting such programs as supplemental instruction and a “student dashboard,” which allows graduation specialists to use tools to minimize the number of students whose graduation dates are unnecessarily deferred.
Cal State Fullerton’s six-year graduation rate is now 62 percent — the highest in University history.
The OASIS network comprises four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), six Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) and one urban research institution serving a large number of underrepresented students. Participating institutions are:
- California State University, Fresno (HSI)
- California State University, Fullerton (HSI)
- Florida A&M University (HBCU)
- Florida International University (HSI)
- Morgan State University (HBCU)
- North Carolina A&T State University(HBCU)
- North Carolina Central University (HBCU)
- Queens College, City University of New York (HSI)
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (HSI)
- University of Houston (HSI)
- University of Memphis