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May 31, 2005


SPRINGFIELD - Minority students throughout Illinois higher education continue to register progress in enrollments and degree completions, according to a report to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. There remains, however, room for improvement in sustaining college opportunity for some minority groups.

The annual Underrepresented Groups Report headlines a noteworthy array of informational reports to the Board at its regular meeting scheduled for June 7 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to the survey of campus diversity, Dr. Jennifer Presley, a noted researcher on trends in educational attainment, will address Board members on a study of college readiness and retention. The Board also will consider a report on progress in gender equity in intercollegiate athletics.

In fall 2004, there were 75,279 African American undergraduates at Illinois colleges and universities, an increase of 2 percent over a year earlier and of 17 percent since 1994. Enrollment of Hispanic undergraduates totaled 48,023 in fall 2004, an increase of 4 percent over fall 2003 and more than 63 percent over a decade earlier. Enrollments of undergraduate Asian students rose nearly 22 percent over the 10-year period, and 14 percent for Native American students.

At community colleges, Native American students were the only minority group to experience an enrollment decline (3.6 percent) between 1994 and 2004, while others posted increases, ranging from 8 percent for Asian students to 61 percent for Hispanics. At public universities, African American enrollment declined by 6 percent between 1994 and 2004. Both Hispanics (36 percent) and Asians (22 percent) gained enrollment while Native Americans had no change.

Bachelor's degrees awarded to African American students in 2004 increased just over 1 percent while the 10-year increase was nearly 46 percent. Baccalaureate degrees declined for Hispanic students in 2004, compared with a year earlier, but over the 10-year period rose 95 percent. Asian students also experienced a decline in bachelor's degrees in 2004, compared with 2003, but had a 48 percent increase over the decade. Bachelor's degrees for Native American students rose 51 percent in 2004, compared with 2003, and 127 percent over the 10-year span.

The Underrepresented Groups Report also contains a census of students with disabilities. In 2004, College of DuPage had the largest community college enrollment of disabled students - 1,237, or 4 percent of its total enrollment. Wright College in Chicago had the highest percentage of students with disabilities, 8.2 percent of its enrollment. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the most students with disabilities in 2004 - 1,063, or 2.6 percent of its enrollment. Northeastern Illinois University had the highest percentage of disabled students among public universities, 8.1 percent of its total enrollment.

The report also details a variety of university and community college programs aimed at bolstering academic achievement and examines retention rates for various groups of students and institutions.

Board members will hear a presentation by Dr. Presley, director of the Illinois Education Research Institute at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, about a longitudinal study of the freshman class of 2002. Her report will focus on the students' academic readiness for college and on retention rates.

The Board also will consider a report outlining policies at public universities concerning the use of tuition waivers to promote gender equity in intercollegiate sports. Since 1995, the year before the gender equity waivers became available through state law, significant growth has occurred in the participation of female students in intercollegiate athletics and the resources devoted to women's sports. However, while women comprise 52 percent of university enrollments, expenditures on female athletic programs make up just 37 percent of athletic expenditures.

The Board's action agenda includes program approvals for new associate degree programs at Elgin Community College, Kaskaskia College, College of Lake County, Southwestern Illinois College, and Waubonsee Community College. Illinois State University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville also are seeking new degree programs, and ISU has asked for Board approval of a Center for Adoption Studies, and the University of Illinois at Chicago seeks endorsement for a new Center for Lung and Vascular Biology. Nine private institutions - American College of Education, Fox College, Lewis University, New York Institute of Technology (Ellis College), Rasmussen College, Rockford College, the University of St. Francis, Vatterott College, and Westwood College - seek approval for operating and/or degree-granting authority.


Don Sevener



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