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PRESS RELEASE

March 18, 2004

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Jim Horne, Board of Governors Chair Carolyn Roberts and Universities Chancellor Debra Austin Announce Florida Public University Graduation Rates Rank Well Above National Average, Encourage Universities to Do More
Florida's Hispanic and African American graduation rates rank among top ten in nation

ORLANDO — Education Commissioner Jim Horne, Board of Governors Chair Carolyn Roberts and Universities Chancellor Debra Austin today announced graduation rates at Florida's state universities rank well above the national average. Florida ranked twelfth among the states in overall graduation rates, with graduation rates for Hispanic and African American students ranked sixth and seventh respectively.

"While we are pleased that Florida's graduation rates are on the rise and that all of our students rank above their national counterparts, we must do more," said Commissioner Horne. "Florida's state universities must continue drive excellence by ensuring that students are making the most of their time at our institutions."

According to a staff analysis of data recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), of students who entered Florida state universities in 1996, 57 percent completed their bachelor's degree at the same institution by 2002, compared to 52 percent of students at public institutions nationwide. Among African American students, Florida's graduation rate was 48 percent, compared to 37 percent nationally and among Hispanic students it was 52 percent, compared to 42 percent nationally.

"Florida's state university system is one of the most dynamic in the country, with more and more of our universities gaining national recognition for their programs and accomplishments," said Chairwoman Roberts. "The Board of Governors is committed to encouraging all of Florida's students to reach their potential by implementing policies that will increase space and access at our state universities."

Although national comparisons are not yet available for 2003, Florida's graduation rate is moving in the right direction. The entering class of 1997 will have the third consecutive annual increase. Innovative efforts at individual institutions, such as a new advising and student tracking system at the University of Florida, are driving statewide gains.

"Our universities are focused on productivity," said Chancellor Austin. "I encourage them to keep up the good work and put policies in place that reward students for focusing on academics."