Much of the editorial in JBHE deals with the progress of Black students at the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities. But it is always important to keep in mind that large state-operated universities enroll as much as 75 percent of all African-Americans who are participating in higher education in this country. Tens of thousands of Black students are enrolled at the nation’s flagship state universities, generally the premier public institutions in a given state.
Every year since JBHE has tracked graduation rates for Black students, the University of Virginia has had the highest graduation rate for African Americans among the flagship institutions. A decade ago in 2004, the University of Virginia has a Black student graduation rate of 86 percent. The next closest was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But its Black student graduation rate was 17 percentage points lower. No other flagship state university had a Black student graduation that was above 69 percent.
Once again, the Black student graduation rate of 84 percent at the University of Virginia is the highest of any of the nation’s flagship state universities. But over the past decade, several other flagships have significantly closed the gap. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is second, with a Black student graduation rate that is one percentage point lower at 83 percent. The University of Michigan ranks third with a Black student graduation rate of 78 percent.
As stated, among the flagship state universities a decade ago, only the University of Virginia had a Black student graduation higher than 70 percent. Now there are 13 flagship state universities at which the Black student graduation rate is 70 percent or higher.