Background and Charge
In IUPUI’s most recent strategic plan, "Our Commitment to Indiana and Beyond: IUPUI Strategic Plan,” three broad priorities deemed critical to the success of IUPUI, the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana were identified – The Success of our Students, Advanced in Health & Life Sciences and Contributions to the Well-Being of the Citizens of Indianapolis, the State of Indiana and Beyond. These measures are applicable to the entire student body and all the stakeholders of IUPUI. However, given IUPUI’s historic mission and location in one of Indianapolis’ most storied African American communities, IUPUI is uniquely concerned about the success of African American students and creating a sustainable and transformative relationship with the African American communities in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana.
In recent years IUPUI has experienced a decline in enrollments among students who self-reported as Black/African Americans, even though the number of applicants and admissions for this group was fairly stable during this time period. Following the start of the Fall 2015 semester, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson appointed a Task Force to review matters related to this issue. In her invitation to serve on the Task Force, Dr. Johnson provided a brief summary of the campus’s concern as well as a charge to the group:
IUPUI’s commitment to diversity focuses not only on overall numbers, but also on the success of individual students. An examination of access must be coupled with the consideration of retention efforts to provide an assessment that assures that meeting institutional commitment to diversity as measured by numbers is appropriately balanced with the institutional commitment to individual student success. While IUPUI’s diversity as measured by the percent of the student population that is composed of students of color has been growing slightly, there is concern that the number of Black/African American beginners enrolling at IUPUI has declined even though there has been little change over time in the numbers of Black/African American students applying and admitted.
(The Task Force will) review the current recruitment and retention initiatives focused on Black/African American students in order to identify opportunities to enhance the enrollment and retention of these students. The review will be data-driven with a focus on the link between admissions characteristics and retention to graduation. Recommendations will be coupled with cost estimates to provide the opportunity for a return on investment analysis.
In a series of meetings, the Task Force reviewed and discussed—
- Current IUPUI recruiting and retention activities.
- Admission, enrollment, retention, graduation, and aid-related data and trends.
- Best practices in recruiting and retention among competing Indiana institutions and nationally.
- While the number of applications from Black/African American students and their admission has remained fairly constant, the yield rate of admissionenrollment has declined.
- While IUPUI will always benefit from increasing the size of the qualified applicant pool, the campus is losing students at the point of enrollment to other institutions. This needs to be an area of focus.
- Competing institutions, such as IUB and Purdue West Lafayette, have been able to increase their share of Black/African American enrollment due in large measure to better funding of institutional financial aid and scholarships and programs that cover 4 years of enrollment.
- IUPUI needs to increase aid to cover financial gaps that can stop a prospective student from attending, a current student from continuing their enrollment, or cause a student to have to work more hours to the detriment of studies.
- Given limitations in institutional financial aid (scholarships/grants), IUPUI won’t be successful in competing with better-funded institutions for the highest ability students. The campus should focus on the next group down, get them “over the bubble,” and help them become high-performing.
- IUPUI needs to do a better job of connecting students to the institution throughout their educational experience, ranging from prospects through admission, enrollment, and graduation. Such activities must occur in all parts of the university including central units like Admission and Student Affairs, but especially in the academic units, and incorporate engaging the students in recognized high-impact practices.
- The campus needs to work with current and prospective students to raise their aspirations in terms of available academic programs and other educational opportunities in which they may be interested and qualified (research, Honor’s courses, etc.). This will benefit from telling the stories of students who are succeeding in these areas as well as achieving the appropriate work/life/school balance.
- IUPUI does a good job supporting students in their first year, but doesn’t provide a continuity of support throughout the later years. We recognize that support is not limited to matters of academics and advising, but include other parts of a student’s life at the university, such as extra-curricular activities, housing, and in being able to learn and grow in a comfortable, welcoming, and supportive environment.
- An important component of this improved connectivity is bettering IUPUI’s communication with the student and improving the handoffs between and among units so that the student isn’t lost.
- We should build on what has been successful in the past, including transition programs and Learning Communities. We also should incorporate best practices offered elsewhere, including mentoring, programs in housing settings, and counseling/advising support beyond the traditional area of academics (including financial).
- At the same time, IUPUI needs to improve its connections to and engagement with the community—primarily Indianapolis, but increasingly statewide. An institution the size of IUPUI can seem confusing and impersonal, especially to members of the community such as prospective students and their parents who may not be experienced with colleges or universities.
- For prospective students and their families, especially those from traditionally underserved populations, greater engagement can help them see that going to college is possible and that IUPUI is a welcoming and supportive institution.
- For current students this includes expanded internship and mentoring opportunities that not only provides them the chance to expand their own skills, but in some cases to serve as the point of connection or mentor for prospective students. Seeing someone like themselves who is succeeding in higher education can be a powerful attraction to prospective students, encouraging them to continue their own studies.
- The Office of Community Engagement provides community connections with youth serving organizations, community centers, faith and community based organizations, alumni, and other stakeholders which communicate that IUPUI is a welcoming place to pursue and achieve post-secondary success.
- As a follow-up to these findings, the Task Force established a set of aspirational targets along with specific performance indicators that could be used to track IUPUI’s progress. see Outcome Indicators below.
- To facilitate its work, the Task Force created two subcommittees to review different aspects of the issue. One focused on Recruitment and the other on Retention. The subcommittees were charged with:
- Developing strategies to move the campus toward achievement of the Outcome Indicators established by the Task Force.
- Identifying specific activities and staffing needed to support strategies.
- Proposing an appropriate timetable required to implement strategies.
- Identifying the amount of funding needed to support strategies
A summary of the recommendations follows with details in the attached document.
- Improve the support of prospective & newly admitted students through the admission and initial enrollment process.
- Provide adequate scholarship funding to attract highly sought-after prospective students through expansion of current diversity scholarships and housing support.
- Create a high ability transfer diversity scholarship to attract transfer students to complete their baccalaureate degrees at IUPUI.
- Enhance IUPUI’s diversity recruiting program including expanding the number of and providing funding for targeted middle school and high school visits.
- Develop recruitment campaigns targeting Black/African American audiences.
- Expand direct student financial support though additional scholarships including housing stipends.
- Improve the support of continuing students throughout their academic career by expanding the current Diversity Enrichment & Achievement Program (DEAP) in size, scope, and duration.
DEAP’s mission is to enhance the transition and success of IUPUI students from populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education by addressing academic, social, and personal matters that have an impact on student persistence. Through connecting, affirming, guiding, and engaging students, DEAP helps to ensure their success at IUPUI. DEAP offers intensive retention programming and a supportive community.
We recognize that due to legal restrictions we are barred from offering preferential treatment in admission or scholarships to any specific ethnic group, such as Black/African Americans. As a result, we anticipate that increases in diversity as a result of these activities will likely include students from other ethnic groups as well.
At approximately the same time the Task Force was beginning its work, the IU Trustees were reviewing Black/African American enrollment at the different campuses. IUPUI established a goal to have Black/African American students compose 15% of the undergraduate students at the Indianapolis campus by 2020. Given recent trends in admission and retention (see below) this is an ambitious goal that would require the implementation of expanded recruitment and retention initiatives so that the campus can add approximately 228 additional African Americans a year for the next five years.
The 15% enrollment target serves as the Task Force’s first aspirational goal.
Student-Related Outcome Indicators
Aspirational target 1
The composition of the IUPUI undergraduate student body includes at least 15% Black/African American students within five years.
Performance Indicator 1a
The composition of the undergraduate student body, particularly the composition of the beginning student cohort, reflects or exceeds the percentage of Black/African American SAT takers in the IUPUI Service Region who score at or above the IUPUI minimum SAT score (or ACT equivalent).
Performance Indicator 1b
The composition of the external transfer student cohort reflects or exceeds the percentage of Black/African American college-going enrollment for students whose homes are in the IUPUI Service Region.
Aspirational target 2
- 1st year retention of Black/African American students meets or exceeds the overall campus performance
- 4 year graduation rate of Black/African American students meets or exceeds the overall campus performance
- 6 year graduation rate of Black/African American students meets or exceeds the overall campus performance
- The performance of male and female Black/African American students are similar
Performance Indicator 2a
The participation rate of Black/African American students in high impact practices meets or exceeds the overall campus rate.
Performance Indicator 2b
The participation rate of Black/African American students in high performing (selective) programs meets or exceeds the percent of Black/African American students in the undergraduate population.
Task Force Performance Indicators
- Plan for achieving the necessary level of funding has been submitted to the campus for action
- Information on the status of Black/African American students has been shared with the campus community
Next Steps for the Campus
- Identify and commit to the ongoing financial support necessary to implement and sustain the recommendations of the Task Force
- Determine the group(s) charged with developing a more welcoming and supportive campus environment. Recognizing that much of this occurs beyond the classroom, this likely would benefit from leadership provided by Student Affairs.
- One approach could be the development of a book and lecture initiative within University College.
- Further develop the utilization of high impact practices to engage Black/African American students, including exploring how to increase the enrollment of the students in high impact practice courses and co-curricular experiences.
- Potential approaches include increasing the number of students enrolled in first year seminars and themed learning communities.
- Continue to enhance the engagement of the campus with the Black/African American community by development of specific strategies to engage youth serving organizations, community centers, faith and community based organizations, alumni, and other stakeholders.
Task Force members sorted by subcommittee
Kim Stewart-Brinston chair
Becky Porter liaison, Task Force co-chair
Eric Williams chair
Joseph Tucker Edmonds
Karen Dace liaison, Task Force co-chair