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Graduation rates among Northeastern’s African-American students continue to rise

Graduation rates among African-American students at Northeastern University have increased by 27.4 percentage points over the last decade, a fact that was highlighted this week in a report by The Education Trust.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is dedicated to closing the achievement gap among low-income families and minorities.

As highlighted in the report, Northeastern increased its graduation rate for African-American students from 42.1 percent in 2002 to 69.5 percent in 2011. From 2010 to 2011, the graduation rate for African-American students jumped 4.8 percent.

“As a society, we are stronger when we are diverse,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “At Northeastern, diversity is our priority. It is a collective commitment and I am glad that our efforts are bearing fruit. We must continue on this path.”

Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education, praised Northeastern on Twitter on Wednesday, thanking the university “for their leadership and commitment to improving African American graduation rates.”

The study— Intentionally Successful: Improving Minority Student College Graduation Rates—was based on statistics culled from The Education Trust’s College Results Online database. The CRO database, the study said, “empowers policymakers, parents, prospective students, and others to dig into a comprehensive dataset on colleges to identify schools that perform well relative to their peers.”

The study cited Northeastern as one of three colleges and universities in the nation with significant increases in either African-American or Hispanic graduation rates over the last 10 years. Over the same time period, the graduation rate for Northeastern’s white students also continued to grow, according to the report. “Success for one student group,” the study said, “does not need to come at the expense of another.”

The study also found that the number of African-American and Latino undergraduates enrolled in colleges nationwide “grew far faster” than the enrollment of white students over the last three years. From 2009 to 2011, the enrollment of African-American students increased 8.5 percent, from 1,271,636 to 1,379,680, whereas the number of white students rose just 2.7 percent, from 5,928,302 to 6,090,212.

“If more colleges act on lessons from their faster growing peers,” the report concluded, in reference to Northeastern, “far more will be successful in improving graduating rates for all students and closing long-standing gaps between minority students and their white classmates.”