IHBE responds to low grad. rate

By Nissin Behar

In response to decreasing graduation rates at NIU and other public state universities, the Illinois Board of Higher Education is developing strategies to help minority retention.

Although 3,758 freshmen entered NIU in 1980, only 2,116 eventually graduated, according to an IBHE report.

The percentage of students failing to graduate was highest among blacks—about 74 percent—at Illinois public universities, the report said.

Suman Gupta, a statistician in NIU’s Institutional Research department, said about 79 black students attended NIU at the graduate level in fall 1980, along with 1,074 undergraduate blacks.

The Institutional Research department did not have a number for black freshmen enrolled in 1980, because a special request must be submitted to look it up in a computer program, Gupta said. About 70 percent of Hispanic freshmen in 1980 failed to graduate from Illinois public universities.

The IBHE said 40 percent of the freshmen who did not graduate had grade point averages of 2.0 or less on a four-point scale. Less than 40 percent had a GPA of C or better.

An IBHE report states that those who finished their degrees were younger when they enrolled at NIU than those who did not graduate from NIU, and had a higher high school class rank and higher scores on the American College Testing exam.

The Board proposes a policy that prohibits racial discrimination and condemns harassment and establishes procedures to investigate discrimination allegations quickly.

Another proposal would provide ethnic/racial awareness and sensitivity training for full- and part-time faculty and staff members and include training in orientation programs for new faculty and staff members.

A program should be established in racial, cultural and gender sensitivity, as well as in teaching methods for new teaching assistants, the Board said.

Most of the students who did not eventually graduate from Illinois public universities left after a year. About 70 percent of the students left by the end of their sophomore year, the Board said.