JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Less than one in four African-American students at East Tennessee State University graduated within six years of starting school there, according to an analysis of the most recent U.S. Department of Education data.
The data, collected a few years ago, but released this year, reveal not only is ETSU’s graduation rate for black students the worst in Tennessee among four-year public institutions, it’s near the bottom nationally too.
According to a News Channel 11 data analysis, ETSU ranked 417 out of 537 public colleges and universities that released completion rate data. The completion rate was roughly 23%, which was significantly lower than the national average of roughly 37%.
For Hispanic students, ETSU ranked 354 out of 547 public institutions with a completion rate of just 36%, which was also below the national average of 43%.
For comparison purposes, Middle Tennessee State University graduated more than 40% of its black and Hispanic students during the same time period, while the University of Tennessee-Knoxville graduated more than half of its black and Hispanic students.
Dr. Brian Noland announced the creation of a diversity task force Monday during his “State of the University” address. Among other things, he says the task force is charged with helping more minority students graduate. He acknowledged there’s a problem.
“The data indicate the importance of this initiative, our graduation rates for African-American and minority students are not where they need to be,” Dr. Noland said after Monday’s address.
More recent data provided by ETSU suggests the university has improved its graduation rates for black and Hispanic students since the U.S. Department of Education collected its data.
According to the data, black students make up just 6% of all of ETSU’s student population, while Hispanic students make up roughly 2%.
Across all races ETSU’s completion rate is 41%, according to the data. That ranks only ahead of University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Austin Peay State University and Tennessee State University among public four-year institutions in Tennessee. We’ve requested an interview with Dr. Noland to discuss the data and the university’s plan to improve the numbers.
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