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University of South Florida Named the Top Public University in the Nation for Latino Student Success

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2017) - The University of South Florida Tampa has been recognized as a top performing university fourth in the nation overall and the number one public university for eliminating the completion gap between Latino and white students, according to a report released today by The Education Trust, a non-profit advocacy organization.

USF students at this year's International Festival sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs | Photo by Eric Younghans

The report examines graduation rates and completion gap data between Latino and white full-time, bachelor’s degree-seeking students at 613 public and non-profit private colleges and universities across the United States. The publication reveals that nationally 53.6 percent of Latino students graduate within six years, compared to 63.3 percent of white students (as of 2015). This represents a marked improvement over 2002 when only 45.7 percent of Latinos graduated versus 58.1 percent of white students.

In comparison, the USF graduation rate for Latino students in 2015 was 66.2 percent (a three-year weighted average of 2013, 2014 and 2015), exceeding the national average by 13 percent. Current USF data indicates its six-year graduation rate for the 2011 cohort of Latino students has increased to 71.3 percent.

“USF’s successes in closing the graduation rate gap can be attributed to the fundamental principle of our student success movement. We believe that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, can and will succeed if given the opportunity to do so,” Paul Dosal, USF vice president for student success & student affairs, said. “Our most recent initiatives have contributed to a three point improvement in the achievement gap for Hispanic students in the past academic year.”

Since 2009, USF has transformed its approach to student success and the student experience by developing a focused and deliberate change in institutional culture, embedding not only the belief that every student will succeed but also that student success is everyone’s responsibility. Combined with supporting programs, policy changes and most recently predictive analytics and a case management approach identifying and targeting at-risk students, USF’s six-year graduation rate for all students has dramatically improved from 47 percent in 2009 to 70 percent today. Through these efforts, the university has closed the graduation rate gap by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

“USF is proud to serve a high-achieving, culturally and ethnically diverse student population from across the nation and around the world,” Ralph Wilcox, provost and executive vice president for the USF System, said. “It is most rewarding to know the innovative work of our faculty and staff is being recognized by prestigious organizations like The Education Trust.”

USF has recently received several national accolades for student success. Earlier this year, the Education Trust ranked the university as one of the nation’s top performers in black student success (No. 6). In 2015, the same publication noted USF’s success among students who receive Pell Grants (No. 5). USF’s national recognition also includes Education Dive’s award for Institution of the Year, the Ruffalo Noel Levitz Retention Excellence Award, the Eduventures 2016 Innovation Award, the selection by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems as a national mentor university for black and Latino student success and the Center for American Progress for “promoting access and success for all” students.

The USF graduation rate for Latino students in 2015 was 66.2 percent, exceeding the national average by 13 percent.

The Education Trust is a national non-profit advocacy organization, established in the early 1990s, to promote high academic achievement “for all students at all levels, particularly for students of color and low-income students.”

The full Education Trust report on Latino student success is available here and an overview is available here.