A new study out of the University of Southern California found Louisiana does a bad job recruiting and graduating black students from its public colleges — not just bad, the worst.
The report from the USC Race and Equity Center gave each institution a letter grade and an "equity index score." Those were averaged to get the state's overall score. Louisiana's was the lowest of 50 states at 1.18.
The average equity index score across the 506 public institutions in the study was 2.02. No campus earned above 3.5. Two hundred colleges and universities earned scores below 2.0, including all of the Louisiana schools in the study.
The scores were based on four "equity indicators" — representation equity, gender equity, completion equity and black student-to-faculty ratio.
Analysts used U.S. Census population statistics and quantitative data from the U.S. Department of Education to measure post-secondary access and student success for black undergrads.
But no HBCUs were included
The analysis focused on black undergraduate students enrolled at every four-year, non-specialized, public post-secondary institution in the nation, according to the summary. That comes to 506 schools.
The report did not include historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in its analyses, considering them specialized, like private schools or military institutes.
The list includes 11 schools from the Louisiana State University System and University of Louisiana System. As HBCUs, two four-years in the Southern University System are not included.
Louisiana is home to three four-year HBCUs — Grambling State, Southern University A&M and Southern University New Orleans — and together they had 10,393 black undergraduate students enrolled in fall 2017. All three see a majority of black students.
That data likely would have improved the state's grade had it been included in the scope of the report, increasing both the number of enrolled black students and black graduates. However, these schools have low graduation rates.
When including HBCUs, Louisiana's 14 four-year universities had an undergraduate student population that was nearly 25 percent black in fall 2007, according to enrollment data from the Louisiana Board of Regents..
How did the Louisiana schools score?
The 11 Louisiana schools in the study were scored as such:
- Louisiana State University at Alexandria, 0.75
- Louisiana Tech University, 1.0
- McNeese State University, 1.0
- Nicholls State University, 1.0
- University of Louisiana at Monroe, 1.0
- Southeastern Louisiana University, 1.0
- Louisiana State University, 1.25
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 1.25
- Louisiana State University-Shreveport, 1.5
- Northwestern State University, 1.5
- University of New Orleans, 1.75
UNO, the Louisiana school with the highest score, had a student population in fall 2017 that was 16.6 percent black, according to data from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The letter grades showed most of these schools struggled with all four "equity indicators" but especially in representation. In that, Northwestern State ranked the highest with a D.
Schools fared better at gender equity — UL Lafayette and UNO each had B's — and completion equity. Northwestern State got an A in completion, which was the only A for any of the Louisiana schools in any indicator.
LSU-Shreveport did the best when it comes to black student-to-black faculty ratio, earning a B.
Louisiana schools are working on this, incorporating support systems through on-campus centers and a more diverse faculty and leadership teams.
"It is in our stated purpose to diversify our leadership teams. Success is directly attributable to the diversity of leadership teams," University of Louisiana System President and CEO Jim Henderson said in August.
In fact, UL Lafayette just received the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. The 96 colleges and universities to receive this award were announced recently by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.
"The honor recognizes a university-wide focus on providing underrepresented groups equal access to educational opportunities and resources," Taniecea Mallery, UL Lafayette’s director of Equity, Diversity and Community Engagement, said in a statement.
More findings from the USC study:
►Louisiana wasn't the only Southern state to come in at the bottom of the study. Nearby Mississippi was fourth to last.
►Massachusetts had the highest equity score at 2.81.
►Black citizens are 14.6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds across the 50 states. Only 9.8 percent of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates at public colleges and universities are black.
►For every full-time black faculty member at a public college or university, there are 42 full-time, degree-seeking black undergraduates.
►Forty institutions employ no full-time black instructors. On 44 percent of public campuses, there are 10 or fewer full-time black faculty members across all ranks and academic fields.