SUNO gets top ranking for African-American graduates

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
The Louisiana Weekly

Southern University at New Orleans earned top rankings in a national study of college graduates conducted by the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race. SUNO was recently named as a top producer of African-American graduates by “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” magazine. University officials acknowledge that the findings reinforce SUNO’s position in the state and among Historically Black Universities and Colleges.

“These top rankings are a testament to the great work and service that our faculty and staff are providing for our students’ success,” said Dr. Lisa Mims-Devezin, SUNO’s chancellor, who assumed the position in 2016.

“This accomplishment demonstrates the resiliency of our faculty, staff, and students. The rebuilding process following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has been long and trying at times, but we have persevered,” said Mims-Devezin, a SUNO alumna herself, who has served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology at the campus.

Master Woodfork is a 2019 graduate of SUNO in Business Administration.

Master Woodfork is a 2019 graduate of SUNO in Business Administration.

“Despite these difficulties, our faculty, staff, and students have continued to fulfill our mission to provide a quality education to our students,” Mims-Devezin added.
Each year, “Diverse” publishes lists of the top 100 producers of associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees awarded to African-American, Asian American, Hispanic and Native American students. This year’s analysis was based on degrees conferred during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Based on the research conducted by Dr. Rhonda V. Sharpe, SUNO ranked 12th in bachelor’s degrees conferred in Mathematics and Statistics, 22nd in bachelor’s degrees conferred in Business Administration, Management and Operations, 30th in bachelor’s degrees conferred in Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services and 37th in bachelor’s degrees conferred in Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

“It is important that HBCUs are proactive about their accomplishments and not reactive to the chatter that often questions why HBCUs still exist,” said Sharpe, the founder and president of the institute that conducted the study. It’s mission is to disseminate research that influences public policy and promotes equitable access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, education, health care, employment, housing, legal representation, family structure, health outcomes, and penal punishment.

“No one will tell the story of the value-added, provided by, or contributions to society by HBCUs, better than the institutions themselves,” Sharpe said.

The institute aims to provide more data on diverse students’ success. It focuses on three areas: gender and racial inequality; the diversity of STEM; and the demography of higher education. Sharpe’s research aims to underscore the state of higher education today particularly for diverse students. Her findings are published in works like: “Who Attends For-Profit Institutions? The Enrollment Landscape,” with William Darity, Jr. and Steve Stokes in “For-Profit Universities: The Shifting Landscape of Marketized Higher Education” in 2017, and “HBCUs: Creating a Scientific Workforce Outta 15 Cents,” in “Setting a New Agenda for Student Engagement and Retention in Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” published in 2016.

Recent graduates said they believe the institution particularly serves local students who require bachelor’s degrees for jobs in the city. Master Woodfork graduated SUNO in May 2019 with a bachelor’s in business administration while concentrating in accounting. Currently, he is a staff accountant at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and his role is to handle the financial affairs of all the branches in the state.

“Without this degree I wouldn’t be able to work in my field. I’m glad I stuck with college and earned my degree in four years; it’s setting me up for success,” Woodfork said. “I was excited to hear about SUNO’s accomplishment. SUNO prepares African-American women and men for success. I feel great to know SUNO is doing numbers and numbers don’t lie! My professors treated me like I was their child and didn’t cut me any slack. SUNO is a family that wants to see you succeed in life,” Woodfork added.

SUNO officials indicated their plans to maintain diverse rankings. The university will start a new degree programs in forensic science and health information management systems that are increasingly in demand among their incoming students.

“We have intensified our retention services to ensure that our students not only matriculate, but graduate within the four to six-year timeframe,” Mims-Devezin said.


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