Acceptance and Retention Rates of African-American Students and Faculty Addressed

Aaliyah Singleton Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Chancellor Randy Woodson along with Provost Warwick A. Arden met with members of the Afrikan American Student Advisory Council (AASAC) to discuss topics concerning the issue of diversity at N.C. State. Among the information presented to AASAC during the meeting was that the acceptance rate for African-American students at N.C. State has risen by 28 percent in the last year.

Early on in the meeting, the Woodson stressed that inclusion and student success were among his administration’s top priorities. “I believe that universities should set the example for diversity in this country,”said Woodson.

Arden echoed these sentiments, offering a more complete idea of the administration’s overall commitment to diversifying the college experience for students. “Campus should be a unique and inclusive model for society in that it creates a rich intellectual and scholarly environment for students of all kinds to thrive,” said Arden. “We’re committed,especially this administration, to inclusion and creating a more diverse campus for our students.”

In terms of combating the loss of African-American faculty members at N.C. State, Woodson, addressed what he considered to be the real problem. “The issue really isn’t about recruiting minority faculty, it’s more about retaining them,” said Woodson. “A lot of [other] universities frankly, have a lot deeper pockets than we do at this time, and you can’t make progress when you lose as many on the back end as you are on the front end.”

Arden supported these statements, speaking directly of the successes of his strategic action plan, a unified, cross-college endeavor put together in order to retain and enamor the hearts of tenured professors. “From the start, the plan was dynamic in that it actively involved all the stakeholders (students, teachers) from day one,” said Arden. “We followed the plan doggedly so that now we have programs and initiatives to help bond our incoming faculty to the school including hands-on diversity training where we cover topics such as unconscious bias. We also have our target of opportunity program, mentorship programs and the University faculty honors program to award tenured professors who have stuck by and invested in our N.C. State community.”

Despite concerns that the number of African-American faculty is relatively low, Woodson was very complimentary of Arden and his efforts to increase the number of African American faculty members. He also offered praise to the “amazing Black leaders on campus,”  who he said  use their time outside of class to provide much needed guidance and mentorship to students transitioning into life on campus.

Woodson, noted that a sense of community was important for students and faculty. “When you’re not in the majority you really need a supportive network around you,” said Woodson. “That’s what I feel a lot of the staff has done in that they have really tried to help students in whatever ways they can, in order for these students to succeed in and out of the classroom.”

In terms of student success, Arden pointed to recent data showing that African-American students appear to have had the greatest increases in graduation rates since the implementation of the strategic action plan. These gains represent an eight percent boost in the six-year graduation rates of Black N.C. State students during the past three years.

The scope of Tuesday’s meeting extended to financial aid with Vice Chair of AASAC, De-Kia Battle, an in-state student, who discussed the benefits of her Chancellor’s Leadership scholarship. “It really helped me out as a student to be able to afford college,” said Battle.

On the other end of the spectrum, Dechia Adesegun, chair of the Black Student’s Board, and an out-of-state student said, “ Unfortunately, [out-of-state students] don’t get as many opportunities for financial aid,” said Adesegun. “ It’s hard to afford school, especially when the school doesn’t see you as a need-based student, even when in your particular or individual situation,you are.”

According to Woodson, the biggest discriminator on who receives financial aid is a students’ needs or merit. He also said that of the approximately 50 percent of N.C. State students who receive financial aid, the University meets about 80 percent of their financial needs.

As for things that AASAC members can do to help contribute to the overall diversity at N.C. State, Woodson encouraged students to help prepare future members of the Wolfpack. “There is a big opportunity for you to stay connected to your communities,” said Woodson. “[Let potential applicants know] ‘If you do the work, you will have the opportunity to attend a university like N.C. State.”