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Xavier is still nation’s top producer of Black doctors

9th July 2012   ·   0 Comments

Xavier University of Louisiana is first among the nation’s colleges and universities in the number of African-American graduates who go on to complete medical school, according to data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Xavier had 60 African-American graduates earn medical degrees in 2011, the latest year for which complete data is available. Howard University was second with 43 graduates, followed by the University of Florida with 26. The remaining schools ranked in descending order are Harvard University, Yale University, Duke University, Stan­ford University, Spelman College, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Xavier University is the nation’s only Black, Catholic institution of higher learning.

The statistics, which were published in the June 7 issue of Diverse issues in Higher Education magazine, are not altogether surprising, since for the past three decades Xavier has been one of the nation’s leaders in preparing and sending graduates to medical and professional schools. In fact, Xavier was No. 1 in the nation in placing African Americans for 15 straight years before an enrollment drop due to the six-month closure of the school following Hurricane Katrina curtailed its numbers. Even still, in 2011 the university placed 68 students into medical school according to AAMC data, second only to much-larger Howard University.

Nor is it surprising in light of some recent grants Xavier has received designed to help the university continue, build upon, and share with other colleges and universities the programs and practices that have helped build it into a powerhouse of science education.

Earlier this year The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that Xavier was one of 47 U.S. colleges and universities selected to participate in a $50 million initiative that will enable the school to create more engaging science classes, bring real-world research experiences to students, and increase the diversity of students who study science.

Identified as among the best universities in the nation at producing graduates who go on to science careers, Xavier was given a Capstone Award of $1 million. Capstone recipients are charged with assessing which elements of their various approaches to science education have been successful and why, establishing a leadership role for these schools.

Xavier’s undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program was also recognized with a $500,000 grant from UNCF/Merck Science Initiative. As the only recipient of this grant, Xavier was able to demonstrate the strength of their STEM program and stand out in UMSI’s competitive selection process.

Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis stands proud of the longstanding and ongoing accomplishments of the university in producing the highest-quality science graduates well-prepared for graduate and professional schools in the field.

“Xavier has achieved a national reputation for excellence in placing the most African-American students in medical schools and graduating the most African-American biologists, chemists, and physicists, in addition to an impressive number of African Americans completing PhDs in science and engineering,” said Francis. “Going forward we intend to build upon that success.”

This article originally published in the July 9, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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