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DSU sees surge in graduation rates among African American students

By February 9, 2021Academics, Press Releases

CLEVELAND, Miss. As colleges and universities across the country continue to explore strategies to boost academic persistence, graduation data at Delta State University reflects a very promising trend.

A four-year comparison of six-year graduation rates at Delta State show a significant increase among African American males and females.

Graduation rates are calculated based upon the percentage of first-time entering students who graduate within 150% of the established time to graduate. If a program can be completed within four academic years, the graduation rate is calculated based upon the number of students who graduate within six years. For instance, the Fall 2014 entering cohort’s six-year graduation rate is calculated in Spring 2020.

A comparison between the Fall 2010 entering cohort and the Fall 2014 entering cohort shows that six-year graduation rates among African American males surged from 11% to 31%— a total increase of 170%. Six-year graduation rates among African American females increased by 64%—from 22% to 35%.

In addition, data from all undergraduate students during the same period reflect an overall 12% increase in the six-year graduation rate.

“I am very pleased with the upward trend we are experiencing with graduation rates for students, especially among African-American students,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “It is clear that outstanding teaching by our caring faculty, superb proactive efforts by our Student Success programs and a positive university-wide student retention culture, all contribute to helping our students succeed by staying on the path to graduation.

“An important ‘take-away’ for those considering college choices is that a Delta State student has a terrific opportunity for success, including lots of assistance to cross that important goal line of graduation,” LaForge added.

DSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams

“I am thrilled with the latest results of our efforts to improve retention and graduation,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams. “It is especially nice to see how well our efforts have paid off to help African American males, particularly when this segment of our student population has historically not graduated at the same rate as other students.”

According to McAdams, there has been campus-wide support of student retention efforts among faculty, staff and administration.

DSU faculty offer targeted outreach to their students to provide a guided path for success, staff members identify challenges that students face early on that may hinder success, and administration identifies and supports growth opportunities to help offer resources to improve student success.

“In 2014 we started a Student Success Task Force to increase awareness and campus-wide participation in strategies to increase graduation rates,” he shared. “The Task Force was chaired by Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of DSU’s Student Success Center. She and her team have since implemented over a dozen sophisticated initiatives intended to intersect with all facets of a student’s academic life.”

DSU’s Student Success Center (SSC) helps students successfully navigate from classroom to cap and gown by providing a wide range of uniquely tailored student support services, including, but not limited to, the Academic Support Lab, face-to face Tutoring Center, 24/7 online tutoring, and the implementation of the S.O.S. (Stay Okra Strong) early alert program.

Academic advising initiatives implemented by the SSC include targeted academic advising for undeclared students, the utilization of academic maps, coordinated pre-registration efforts, and outreach to former students who have not yet graduates through the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program.

The SSC’s First Year Seminar course has enhanced the experience of first-year students at DSU, equipping them with skills needed for success in college and in adult life.

McAdams notes that, “Delta State has seen significant increase in our six-year graduation rate over the last few years and is further evidence of the significant impact we have on the lives of our students and their communities in the Delta.”

For questions about Delta State’s Student Success Center, contact Riddle at (662) 846-4336, or visit