According to a report recently released by The Education Trust in Washington, D.C., UC Riverside has one of the nation’s best graduation rates for black students. Nationally, black student graduation rates lag those of white students by about 22 percent. At UCR, black students graduate at a rate 1.7 percent higher than their white peers. The report analyzed data from 676 institutions and highlighted 18 — chosen for high graduation rates for black students with little-to-no gaps between black and white students.
UCR was the only California-based institution to be spotlighted. Here are a few reasons why at UCR, African American students excel.
Here Are a Few Reasons Why at UCR, African American Scholars Excel:
1. Black Scholars are Valued
Black scholars in leadership positions — ranging from a vice provost and an athletic director to deans and associate deans — serve as role models and mentors. “The fact that UCR supports those who have risen to such heights in their careers is a testament to its empowerment of black scholars,” says Kendrick Davis, associate dean for assessment and evaluation at UCR’s School of Medicine. “Black students are bright, inquisitive, hardworking, and eager to learn from black scholars, which increases the strengths of both.”
2. African Student Programs
Since 1972, UCR’s African Student Programs (ASP) has served students of African descent. ASP connects students with campus resources and advocates on their behalf, helping them to navigate academic challenges or bureaucracy related to housing, financial aid, policies, and parking. “When we eliminate the barriers, it allows our students to focus on their academic success,” says ASP Director Ken Simons ’83.
Each year, ASP invites about 400 black scholars to its annual Academic Awards Ceremony, where they are recognized for making the dean’s list. The department also provides mentoring, cultural experiences, and networking opportunities.
3. Supportive Environment
Black students feel comfortable on UCR’s diverse campus and credit their success to the support of faculty, peers, and programs. “Everyone was friendly and willing to help, the opportunities to enrich myself were endless, and the environment was one of excellence. I loved my experience at UCR so much that I decided to come back to complete my medical education,” says Queen-Ivie Egiebor ’14, now a graduate student.
For environmental engineering major Kayla Ross ’17, supportive faculty and tutors at the Academic Resource Center proved key to her success, as did groups such as UCR’s student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. “NSBE provided a space for me to get advice, when needed, to excel academically,” says Ross. “I was also able to serve in my community through various outreach events and mentoring programs.”
UCR’s black graduation rate may reflect the university’s increased focus on helping underrepresented students, suggests Dr. Michael Nduati ’01, an associate clinical professor and senior associate dean at UC Riverside School of Medicine. “There are now much more structured and funded programs than when I was a student,” says Nduati, who has mentored dozens of black scholars and co-founded African Americans United in Science while an undergraduate student at UCR. “It is great to see that leaders throughout UCR recognize the value in having a diverse campus where students of all colors and ethnicities succeed.”