Clock Tower Accords update, part 2: Making strides towards a more diverse student body

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Among the updates given on the University’s new website dedicated to the Clock Tower Accords is an increase of 100 African-American first-year students who applied and were admitted this fall. Jay Goff, vice president for enrollment and retention management, notes that this figure does not include students “that classify themselves as having multiple races including African-American.”

Among African-American students already attending SLU, there was a 13% rise in the retention rate between the first and second year.

The six-year graduation rate also saw an increase of 5%. The University’s current goal is to expand the geographic reach of the student body, including both students from all 50 states and “a balanced international student population,” according to the University’s racial benchmarks. The University hopes to increase the international population to 15%. The current University Profile lists the international student population at less than 7% of all University students.

In order to “optimize the University’s current service and teaching capacities,” a balance in the distribution of academic majors is also a priority. Increasing the number of graduates with global experiences is another goal, by improving participation in study/travel abroad, in addition to visiting student programs.

Building a representative socioeconomic/ethnic/racial student population is another priority, with the Missouri and Illinois college-bound population used as benchmarks. That means that in order to be representative of the area, the percentage of black students at SLU must be at least 12%. Currently it is just more than half that, at 7%, according to the current University Profile.

Still, more regional black students send their ACT scores to SLU than any other University. SLU receives nearly twice as many scores and information requests as Washington University, according to a student population overview supplied by Jay Goff, vice president of enrollment and retention management. SLU also ranks first among its Jesuit peers, with twice as many black students as Loyola University Chicago. Georgetown University, Boston College, Marquette University, Fordham University and the University of San Francisco all have fewer black students than SLU, according to data retrieved from collegeresults.org. Among the same universities, SLU ranks last in the number of Latino students, but second in the number of students with two or more races.

Expanding the access to the University’s transfer-student programs is also of great importance, with a goal of 15% of new enrollments. The University hopes to grow a 2+SLU program with STLCC and Harris Stowe State University to “better support under-prepared high school graduates.” This arrangement allows for students enrolled at community colleges, for instance, to earn an associate’s degree prior to enrolling at SLU, and then have those credits carry over to earning a bachelor’s. The program is important to SLU’s efforts of increasing the diversity of its student body, since the majority of black students enter SLU as transfer students. Jonathan Smith, chief diversity officer at SLU, explains that this is the case because of affordability. With the MLK Scholarship open to not just incoming students, but also students already on campus — as well as transfer students — Smith is hopeful that there is room to grow the pool of eligible students.

The average institutional gift aid provided to black students has grown since the Clock Tower Accords, as has the discount rate. In 2013, the discount rate was 43%. In 2014 it grew to 53%, and in 2015 it grew to 58.5%.

All of the above goals were approved by the SLU Board of Trustees over four years ago, with the goal of being implemented by 2018.