UVA ranks among top schools for African-Americans

UVA ranks among top schools for African-Americans

UVA has recently been piling up rankings and recognitions in magazines like U.S. News and World Report (24th nationally) and Newsweek (one of 25 “New Ivies”). Now Black Enterprise gets in on the game with its September issue, ranking the University of Virginia 35th in their “50 Top Colleges for African Americans.”
In that listing, UVA is the No. 4 public university that is not historically black, behind Georgia State, Florida State and University of North Carolina. Even more impressive, UVA has far-and-away the highest African American graduation rate (87 percent) of any public school on the list. Yet for a university trying to compete against top private schools, UVA was bested in the rankings by many would-be private competitors, including Stanford, Duke and Cornell.
Where did UVA fail to measure up? Particularly low is the “social score,” which reflects a survey of students and educators about the social environment at a school—only Dartmouth and Northwestern scored worse than UVA. And while the percentage of the student body that is black—8.4 percent—is comparable to other top academic schools, it lags behind the national population percentage of 13 and the state percentage of 20.
The interim Dean of African-American Affairs, Maurice Apprey, says that, while the rankings are a testament to the work of many people at the University, “it also tells us there is more to be done, and we can’t afford to be complacent.”
“It raises some very interesting dilemmas for us,” says Apprey. “For example, how do you increase the number of entering disadvantaged students and still be able to increase these successful rankings?”
Apprey cites support structures—mentoring programs, cultural programs, and a peer advising system that garners national recognitions—as the reason for the high graduation rates.
As for the social score, Apprey is not surprised. “We can’t have these [racial] incidents and not have them reflected in scores,” says Apprey, referring to last year’s racist graffiti and reports of epithets shouted from cars. “It will take generations to have a conflict-free environment. Besides, I’m not certain you can have a conflict-free environment. In other words, it’s not possible to avoid conflict, but you have to ensure there are mechanisms for dealing with conflict so that it does not become malignant.”