Commencement ceremony

A university where everyone can succeed

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Virginia Commonwealth University has just been recognized nationally for student success, and I could not be more proud.

The Education Trust, a national nonprofit advocacy organization focused on educational justice, especially for students of color and low-income students, released a report today examining six-year graduation rates over the last decade. This report identifies universities that have reduced the graduation gaps between underrepresented minority students and their white peers.

I am delighted that VCU is on that short list of universities where students of all backgrounds can succeed.

In the Education Trust report, we are among only 26 universities nationally labeled as a “top-gaining four-year public institution,” meaning that our graduation rates have improved for white students (+12.2 percent), underrepresented minority students (+15.5 percent) and overall student enrollment (+13.2 percent) over the last decade.

At VCU, black students graduate at higher rates than the overall student body. We graduate more black students than any university in Virginia. Students who receive Pell grants are also graduating at higher rates than overall — and at record numbers for our university.

This bucks a national trend. At universities across America, white students are still 14 percent more likely to graduate than underrepresented minority students. And, overall, there is a decline in both 4- and 6-year graduation rates across the nation.

Not here. VCU is a university where everyone can succeed. We are outperforming our peers in important ways — in ways that will make a difference in our world. This is a testament to our students, who are unrelenting on their path to success, and our internationally renowned faculty and staff who mentor and support them.

I am grateful to everyone who focuses on the success of our diverse students, which is our mission as a research university committed to advancing the human experience everywhere. This national acclaim is yours.