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Grant renewed for recruitment, retention of minority students

by Richard Veilleux - August 25, 2008


The state Department of Higher Education has renewed and increased a grant to help UConn continue its efforts to recruit and retain undergraduate minority students.

“These grants aim to reward and support these institutions’ efforts to achieve their student diversity goals,” Gov. M. Jodi Rell said in announcing the grants to UConn and other state public colleges.

“The funds will be put toward mentoring, peer counseling, job fairs, and outreach programs.”

UConn will receive nearly $165,000 per year for the next five years, says Lee Melvin, director of admissions. The grant is more than $40,000 higher per year than the previous five-year grant, he says. It also is more than twice the amount any other state school received.

The amount of each institution’s grant was based upon its performance in the enrollment and graduation of Latino, African American, Asian American, and Native American students.

Since 1995, UConn’s minority population has increased by more than 100 percent, more than 90 percent of whom return for their sophomore year.

Nearly 70 percent of the underrepresented students who enroll at UConn graduate within six years, placing the University in the top 20 of 58 public research institutions.

“We are a template in the state for minority recruitment and retention,” says M. Dolan Evanovich, vice president for enrollment planning, management, and institutional research.

“The continuation of this grant and the increase in funding recognize those efforts.”

Roughly half of the grant, which will be matched by the University, will be used to support undergraduate admissions, says Melvin, and the rest will be applied to programs designed to keep those students on campus.

The percentage of undergraduate minorities at the University has increased from 13.4 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2007. The new freshman class also is expected to feature about 20 percent minority representation.

Melvin says efforts include college life days in the spring, when more than 1,600 low income high school students who would become first-generation college students should they enroll in college are brought to campus for tours and discussions of the college experience; college recruitment days in the fall, when high school juniors ranked in the top 25 percent of their class come to Storrs to discuss residential life, financial aid, and other aspects of the University; several informational receptions; open houses for admitted minority students and their parents; and multiple informational sessions with high school guidance counselors.

Programs designed to retain minority students include a summer program known as ConnCAS, First Year Experience, mentoring, and tutoring services in the Center for Undergraduate Education.

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