Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities

The nation’s public colleges and universities enroll nearly 1 million Black undergraduates. But too often, schools place the burden of success entirely on these students. It should be an institutional responsibility.

This study explores the achievement of Black students at public colleges and universities in every state. More than 500 schools are ranked, based on a formula that includes several factors, including enrollment, graduation, gender equity, and access to same-race faculty.

In addition to data from 506 colleges and universities, researchers offer recommendations for increasing equity and Black academic achievement. Among them:

  • Faculty and administration must learn how to achieve racial equity.
  • The best schools must share their strategies for success.
  • The responsibility for Black student success can’t rest solely with a diversity office, a Black culture center, or Black faculty.
  • Admissions officers must engage a wider array of high schools to find prospective Black students.
  • More full-time Black faculty must be recruited and retained.

“Too often ‘students of color’ are lumped together as if their ‘otherness’ makes them all the same,” said Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey’s secretary of higher education.

“If we are to be serious about our endeavors, we must be careful to examine challenges as specifically as possible in order to be clear about the kinds of remedies that are needed.”