Dec. 01--NORMAL -- Illinois State University is being recognized among the top 25 public institutions in the country by The Education Trust for improvements in the graduation rates of Hispanic students.
ISU was ranked 19th in two categories: improving Hispanic student graduation rates and narrowing the gap between the graduation rates of Hispanic students and white students in the education advocacy group's recent report, "Advancing to Completion."
ISU Provost Sheri Everts attributed the accomplishment to "our talented faculty and staff" and the university's commitment to diversity and individualized attention.
"It's very unusual in a college of this size to have such individualized attention," she said, pointing to programs that provide mentoring, tutoring and other assistance. These apply to all students, not just Hispanics and other underrepresented groups, and are part of why the school's overall graduation rate is improving, she said.
No other public university in Illinois made either top-25 list.
The six-year graduation rate for Hispanic students at ISU improved from 40 percent in 2004 to 58.8 percent in 2010, according to the report. During the same period, the graduation rate for white students climbed from 66.1 percent to 73.4 percent, The Education Trust reported.
That means the Hispanic graduation rate improved at a faster pace, narrowing the gap by 11.5 percentage points.
The number of Hispanic students attending ISU has been growing steadily, more than doubling from 598 undergraduates in 2005 to 1,233 undergraduates in 2012, according to figures from ISU.
Everts expects that trend to continue.
ISU has made a concerted effort to recruit talented Hispanic students through outreach efforts, particularly in the Chicago area, Everts said.
As part of the recruitment process, the university has two Spanish-speaking counselors and a Spanish-speaking financial aid adviser as well as Spanish-language publications about the university, its programs and financial aid. These are aimed at the prospective students' parents.
"It really is a family recruiting process," Everts said.
(c)2012 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)
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