North Carolina Central University Seeks to Boost Retention and Graduation Rates

North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, has mounted a new effort to boost the retention rate of freshman students with the hope that this will lead to a corresponding increase in the university’s graduation rate.

The most recent figures show that 23 percent of freshman students at the predominantly black university do not return for their sophomore year. Slightly less than half of entering freshmen complete a bachelor’s degree within six years.

The university has budgeted $1.6 million in an effort to boost freshman retention. As part of the effort, the university plans to hire 46 new staff members including tutors, reading assessment specialists, and academic counselors. About 150 volunteers — including current upperclassmen, faculty, members, and alumni — will join the program as mentors to incoming students.

New orientation programs and a community service initiative will seek to encourage students to become involved with the campus community.

NCCU chancellor Charlie Nelms says, “You can’t talk student persistence and graduation into existence. You have to plan it, and you have to invest in it.”