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September 16, 2005Jennifer Fennell
Community College Minority Enrollment and Completion Figures on the Rise
TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn and Community College and Workforce Education Chancellor David Armstrong today applauded Florida’s community colleges for their recruitment and retention efforts, which have resulted in dramatically increased minority enrollment and completion figures over the last five years.
Recent Department of Education reports indicate that the Florida Community College System (FCCS) has shown a 29.8 percent increase in Hispanic student enrollment and a 19.9 percent increase in African-American student enrollment over the last five years. This represents an enrollment increase among Hispanic students from 125,050 in 2000-01 to 162,283 in 2004-05. Similarly, enrollment among African-American students increased from 118,522 in 2000-01 to 142,079 in 2004-05. During the same period, the FCCS’ overall student enrollment figures grew from 737,857 to 800,036, representing an 8.4 percent increase.
Also since 2000-01, the FCCS has shown a 44.3 percent increase in African-American Associates in Arts degree completers and a 30.3 percent increase in Hispanic Associates in Arts degree completers. The headcount figures that correspond to these percentages show a growth from 2,743 African-American degree completers in 2000-01 to 3,957 in 2004-05 and from 4,410 Hispanic degree completers in 2000-01 to 5,747 in 2004-05. The FCCS’ overall completion rate increased from 27,103 to 31,897 over the same five year period, which represents a 17.7 percent growth. These graduation rates put the FCCS first among the sixteen Southern Regional Education Board states.
"I congratulate Florida’s community colleges for recognizing the importance of providing access to a college education for a traditionally underserved population," said Commissioner Winn. "Identifying ways to better recruit and retain minority students into our community college system is vital from both an educational and economic standpoint. Whether students earn a degree, continue on to a university or gain career education skills, community college completers are better prepared to enter the state’s workforce in higher-skill, higher-paying jobs.”
Florida officials credit local, state and federal policies and programs that encourage recruitment and retention efforts for all students, especially traditionally underserved populations. Examples of these programs include the College Reach Out Program, Gear Up and Project Stars. Additionally, there has been support from private foundations, such as the Lumina Foundation for Education which strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access and success in education beyond high school.
“Community colleges increasingly provide all Floridians, regardless of color or socioeconomic background, with an opportunity to earn a passport to the American Dream,” explained David Armstrong, Chancellor of Florida’s Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Education. “Our dedicated faculty and staff are focused on giving every Floridian with ability and aspiration an opportunity to succeed in the classroom, and as a result, earn a ticket to great jobs and careers or further learning en route to a bachelor's degree.”
Many of the individual community colleges have even more impressive minority enrollment and completion increases than the state averages. Some of their recruitment strategies include hiring recruiters specifically for Hispanic students and developing Spanish-language materials to support those efforts, as well as hosting community events honoring Martin Luther King Day and Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Keys to the retention efforts include advisement and counseling that help students stay on their educational track and offering tutoring and computer-based help in learning that is provided free-of-charge. Institutions also focus on a commitment to diversity in hiring by providing a learning environment reflective of the overall diversity in the community they serve