Washington and Lee University Shows Major Improvement in Black Student Graduation Rates

In the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Kentucky, showed an average black student graduation rate of 69 percent. This is 20 percentage points below the graduation rate for white students at the university.

Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of the university, told JBHE that he was well aware of the problem and that the university was working hard to correct it. He said great progress has already been made, which is not reflected in the latest data available from the Department of Education. President Ruscio notes that the six-year graduation rate for black students who entered the university in 2002 was 95 percent. The five-year graduation rate for black students who entered in 2003 is 84 percent and the four-year graduation rate for black students who entered in 2004 is 93 percent. These numbers mean that the official black student graduation rate at Washington and Lee as compiled by the Department of Education should rise sharply in the years ahead.

President Ruscio told JBHE that in 2003 new procedures were implemented aimed to increase the retention and graduation rates of African-American students. “African-American students at Washington and Lee meet individually with the associate dean of students on a regular basis to monitor progress and to provide both personal and academic support. This early alert system allows any issues or concerns to be addressed quickly and effectively.”