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PRESS RELEASE

September 18, 2001

CONTACT: Lauren Cain
Director of Communications
850-201-7406

Florida Student Association, Florida Board of Education Partner to Study Improved Retention Among Minority Students

Florida Board of Education Secretary Jim Horne today announced the formation of the State University System Retention Task Force, to identify strategies to increase graduation rates among Florida's minority student population at state universities.

"The admissions data we have received from the State University System for Fall 2001 demonstrates that, without question, the universities have done an outstanding job of creating diverse entering classes of freshmen," Secretary Horne wrote in a letter to all Student Government Association presidents. "The ultimate measure of success, however, will be to see increased graduation rates and improvement in Florida's production of baccalaureate degrees. This can be achieved only by focusing on strategies to increase retention rates at each of our institutions."

Secretary Horne has asked that each student government president appoint a student member to represent their university on the State University System Retention Task Force.

The Task Force will be comprised of student representatives as well as appropriate university personnel. It will be charged with inventorying "best practices" for student retention and exploring new ways in which each higher education institution can create a smaller, more student-centered and user-friendly environment to maintain and improve overall retention rates.

"No one knows best what works and doesn't work on our campuses than students themselves," Secretary Horne said. "I consider the individual office-holders and the Florida Student Association to be an integral component of bringing all forces to bear as we seek new solutions to ongoing challenges."

In its second year, the One Florida Initiative resulted in increased applications to undergraduate programs and minority enrollment remained strong in Florida's university system. Preliminary enrollment figures provided by Florida's 11 public universities and the Office of the Secretary of Education indicate that an additional 577 African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American first-time-in-college students have entered the university system - an increase of 5% over last year's entering class. As a percent of the total entering class, minority enrollment was 36.7%, up from last year. The One Florida Initiative provides alternatives to race-based admissions as a means of increasing diversity and providing greater opportunities for minority students in higher education.