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Fewer Black Grads?

HCC officials: Report doesnâEUR(TM)t give whole story

HCC officials: Report doesnâEUR(TM)t give whole story

April 02, 2006|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
(Page 2 of 2)

Altieri listed several reasons for the decline in the number of associate degrees awarded to black students during the period of the report, including access, affordability and an academic achievement gap.

In order to improve graduation rates among the college's black students and other minorities, Altieri said, the college will have to strengthen its developmental programs and offer more support services.

Altieri said that historically, 60 percent to 75 percent of all students who enroll at HCC need remediation.

"And that's disproportionately higher among minority populations, so their readiness for their college-level work is not as high as other populations," Altieri said.

"I don't want to give the impression that our African-American students or minority students don't graduate because they're always academically weak," he said. "In many cases, they were doing fine academically, but they dropped out because of finances or because of family circumstances."

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HCC's efforts, gains

Altieri noted that the number of certificates awarded to black students has dramatically increased.

At HCC, the number of certificates awarded to black students went from zero in 1995 to 22 in 2005.

Keller said certificates are treated as formal awards and can be included in a college's graduation statistics.

In 2002, HCC launched a campaign to increase the number of certificate programs available at the school, Altieri said.

Still, most two-year graduates hoping to transfer to a four-year school are required to have an associate degree.

Roy Coles, a black freshman at HCC, is pursuing an associate degree in business. He said he hopes to transfer to a four-year school.

"All my teachers help me," said Coles, 20, of Hagerstown.

Coles said he came to HCC from Virginia to run track.

"Most of the African-Americans, minorities, I see are athletes," he said.

Enrollment of black students at HCC increased by 40 percent between 1995 and 2004, from 169 students to 237, according to MHEC data. The state average for black enrollment increase was 37 percent during that same time period.

Taking steps

Altieri said the college has stepped up efforts to recruit minority students and has hired a part-time minority recruiter.

The MHEC's report commended HCC's ESSENCE and GEAR UP programs for having minority participation rates that were equal to or greater than that of the region's general population.

ESSENCE (Early Support for Students to Enter College Education) allows high school students to take college courses for credit. GEAR UP is another program aimed at encouraging high school students to pursue higher education.

The college's Multicultural Committee, made up of faculty, students and administrators, has spent the past two school years examining diversity issues on campus, according to documents obtained by The Herald-Mail.

The committee was formed to plan the school's annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, but has begun exploring broader diversity issues over the past year, according to the committee's minutes.

In December, the committee issued a report to HCC's Board of Trustees recommending that it work with department heads to increase minority enrollment and improve faculty diversity.

Altieri said the report was treated as an informational item and said the board would consider the report as the college develops its 2007 budget and annual institutional plan.

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