Iowa State University Reports a Drop in Its Black Student Retention Rate

Iowa State University in Ames has a long history of educating African Americans. Its most famous black graduate is George Washington Carver, who went on to hold more than 300 U.S. patents in the agricultural sciences. Today blacks make up about 3 percent of the 20,000 undergraduate students at the university.

This year there was a sharp drop in the black student retention rate, the percentage of freshman students who return to the university for their second year. Last year the retention rate for black students was a healthy 86 percent. But this year only 73 percent of the black students who enrolled in the fall of 2006 returned to campus in the fall of 2007. For the student body as a whole, the retention rate  is 85 percent.

Iowa State believes that the drop in the black student retention rate is only a statistical anomaly. It does not plan any new programs to boost the black retention rate. However, the university says that it works hard to retain all students who are at risk of dropping out regardless of race or ethnicity.