Chancellor's Friday Letters

No Graduation Gap Here

No Graduation Gap Here

February 26, 2010

Dear Friends,

There have been several stories in the national and regional media this week regarding gaps in college graduation rates along racial and ethnic lines.

At the University of California, Riverside, graduation rate gaps are negligible.

The March 1 print edition of Newsweek contained an article titled, “Minority Report: American universities are accepting more minorities than ever. Graduating them is another matter” (http://www.newsweek.com/id/233843).

While the authors highlight a number of public universities with pronounced racial and ethnic gaps in graduation rates, they – as well as students, parents and lawmakers – should know that such results are hardly inevitable.

Among UCR entering freshmen classes over the last half-dozen years, African Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and whites each graduated at rates of 66-70%. In fact, data from the last two years of graduating classes show our African American students outperformed whites, 71% to 66%.

This success is not because we admit only elite students. Rather, we add enormous value through freshman learning communities and other academic opportunities and support efforts during a student’s matriculation. Further, our students generally have a strong work ethic about their studies and have had instilled in them by prior experience – coupled with their own intrinsic drive and ability – a deep responsibility to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by UCR.

UC Riverside faculty and staff maintain an unyielding commitment to diversity as a vital component of academic excellence in today’s world. Our diversity of people, programs, and ideas has demonstrably enhanced our teaching, learning, research, and creative activity. This is reflected in a quote this week from our fourth-year student La Tonya Hodges, who is African American, “When you see there are black people around you being successful and graduating, that pumps you up to want to achieve and do well.”

Upon graduation, students from the nine UC campuses with undergraduate students are queried through the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey. In response to the statement that, “Diversity is important on this campus,” 91% of Riverside graduates agree (the range across UC is 74% – 91%). When asked “Are students of my race/ethnicity respected on this campus?”, 87% of UCR students agree; for African American students it’s 77%; for Chicano/Latino students it’s 90%; and Asian American/Pacific Islander 88%. These responses are consistently among the top across the UC.

The word about UCR’s success in recruiting, retaining and graduating students of color has been gaining traction in the media, including just this week a mention in New York Times and California Watch blogs, and our regional paper The Press-Enterprise (links follow my letter for those interested).

While some universities and colleges seek recognition for the students they admit, we are most interested in being known for the students we graduate…and it is a gratifying point of pride for our faculty, staff, students, and alums to see the national recognition in this regard.

Best regards,


Tim White, Chancellor

Share your thoughts: http://fridayletters.ucr.edu/leavefeedback

Links from above:

California Watch

The New York Times:

The Press-Enterprise

A Quotable Historian

UCR historian Catherine Allgor is featured in a PBS documentary March 1 about the power of First Ladies. Studying women like Dolly Madison, Allgor says, shows us how power works behind the scenes: Here’s one provocative quote: “I always thought Freud got it wrong. It’s not sex that drives people. It’s power.”

From Sproul Hall to the World

Reza Aslan, assistant professor of creative writing, talks with Margaret Warner from the PBS NewsHour while he’s sitting comfortably in the television studio in Sproul Hall.

Life’s Rocky Road

The final lecture in the Science of Evolution series at the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center is 6 p.m. March 3. Professor of Geology Nigel Hughes will speak on “Life’s Rocky Road: The History of Life on Earth.”

Wondering what else is going on at UCR? It’s all listed at http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department Information

Office of the Chancellor
4108 Hinderaker Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5201
Fax: (951) 827-3866

E-mail: chancellor@ucr.edu