National Higher Education Summit Spotlights College Completion

National Higher Education Summit Spotlights Student Equity and Opportunity

(Image: File)
(Image: File)

The National Urban League joined forces with USA Funds, an organization that promotes and supports student success, to host the National Higher Education Summit in Washington, D.C., last week. At the stunning offices of Gallup Inc., the two-day summit explored student access and completion, equity and affordability, strategic investments, and the economic and business imperative for higher education.

[Related: One Country’s Bold Approach to End Discrimination in the College and Job Application Process]

After opening remarks from USA Funds President and CEO William D. Hansen and NUL President and CEO Marc Morial, a highlight of the summit was the presentation of results from the survey, Gallup-USA Funds Minority College Graduates Report by Brandon Busteed, executive director of education at Gallup. The survey polled college graduates who identified as black, white, Asian, or Hispanic.

According to the results, all college grads are more likely than the average American adult to have great jobs–defined as one in which the employee is “engaged,” according to the survey. However, there are racial differences in employee engagement. What may be of even greater interest is that black graduates were divided into two groups: those who had graduated from a historically black college and those who had graduated from a predominantly white school. Of the two sets of black graduates, HBCU grads scored higher in all levels of well-being that Gallup measured:

  • Purpose: Liking what you do every day and being motivated to achieve your goals.
  • Social: Having strong, supportive relationships and love in your life.
  • Financial: Effectively managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security.
  • Community: Being engaged where you live, liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community.
  • Physical: Having good physical health and enough energy to get things done every day.

Although HBCUs are struggling in many areas, the Gallup results indicate that they’re doing something right by providing key supports to their students, enabling those students to thrive once they graduate. Their graduates surpass Ivy League grads on five measures and tie with them on a sixth, Busteed said. He remarked that schools are being judged by just a few indicators, but that “we need to think about all these things,” (not just graduation rates, earning potential, etc.) before making a value judgment.

Panels examining college completion and attainment; equity, access, and affordability; investments, partnerships, and vision; data and accountability; and business and higher education all sought to determine the most effective ways to help students succeed.

Outstanding speakers representing business, government, education, and the nonprofit sector took part. They included Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Neil Horikoshi, president and executive director of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund; Carrie L. Billy, president of the American Indian Education Consortium; Tia McNair, an associate vice president at the Association of American Colleges and Universities; elected officials, college presidents, and business leaders, including Ronald Parker, president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council.

(Continued on next page)