Purdue closes retention gap for underrepresented minority students

January 19, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University is closing the retention gap between underrepresented minority students and the general student population to less than 2.5 percent, President France A. Córdova said Thursday (Jan. 19).

The most recent data show the overall retention rate at Purdue is 90.2 percent while the retention rate for all underrepresented minority students is 87.8 percent and the rate for African-American students is 87.4 percent, said Brent Drake, assistant vice provost and director of enrollment management analysis and reporting. He said these are all-time record retention rates for Purdue.

Drake said five years ago the retention gap was 11 percent between the overall rate and underrepresented students and 14 percent between the overall rate and African-American students.

Córdova said the news shows the university's strategic investments in student success are working.

"Diversity and inclusion are principles that should inform all aspects of our daily lives at Purdue University," Córdova said. "In fact, this was a major theme of our 'New Synergies' strategic plan when it was introduced in 2008. We are very proud that one of our plan's successes is shrinking the retention gap between underrepresented minorities and the general student population."

Several factors have led to the gap narrowing, said Pamela Horne, associate vice provost of enrollment management and dean of admissions.

"We've really focused on the importance of effective academic preparation with prospective Purdue students, with a rigorous high school curriculum that includes a new requirement of four years of math in high school and strongly encouraging the selection of advanced placement and honors courses," she said. "We've also enhanced the first-year experience. We made the new student summer advising and registration program mandatory and expanded learning communities. Both central and college-based student success programs and a focus on active learning and engagement in the first year curriculum across campus are playing a big role.

"It's not any one thing; all of these things together have made a significant difference."

Writer:  Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Sources:   France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                    Pamela Horne, 765-494-7014, pamhorne@purdue.edu

                    Brent M. Drake, 765-494-6136, bmdrake@purdue.edu