Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

A complete picture of SUNO’s graduation rate needed, again

18th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

This past week MSN.com posted its ranking of the eleven 4-year colleges and universities in the United States with the lowest graduation rates. Southern University at New Orleans posted the lowest mark with a graduation rate of four percent. The story was picked up by the Baton Rouge Business Report and by a local conservative blog, TheHayride.com.

As many of you know we faced these types of questions about our graduation rates in 2010 after a similar article was posted in Washington Monthly. Now, just as then our response has been to provide a more complete picture to these media outlets that still do not understand our story.

Once again, here are the facts. In our cohort of freshmen who entered SUNO in the Fall of 2004, there were 373 students. Following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when we reopened the campus in 2006, only 68 of those students were able to resume their studies. Of those 68, 15 went on to earn their degrees within the six-year window yielding a graduation rate of 22 percent. The Louisiana Board of Regents has already acknowledged that the 2005 cohort has been contaminated to the point that no reliable data can be extracted and will credit Universities in the storm impacted areas with a graduation rate of 0%.

We have seen the fruits of the labor put in by our faculty, staff and most importantly our students. This past May, 486 men and women received degrees from our institution and yet only 21 will be counted in our graduation rate. In 2011, 442 more earned their diplomas yet SUNO receives credit for just 14. Those numbers do not reflect what is really going on inside these walls under conditions that many others would find daunting to say the least.

We will continue to spread the message of the work that is being done here at SUNO and will continue to exert pressure when possible to achieve a more accurate system on measurement for student success. Retention has been a focus for us as well as returning students who have left the University and are interested in resuming their studies. We will also continue to see the benefits of our selective admissions criteria as we recruit more traditional students who will be better prepared for collegiate success.

We are building towards a better Southern University at New Orleans. Know that SUNO will continue to seek out any and all avenues that will lead to greater success for its students.

– Administration
Southern University
at New Orleans

This article was originally published in the June 18, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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