Access Lacking for Black Students at Public Institutions


Too many public colleges and universities fail to offer equitable access to black students, according to new findings from the USC Race and Equity Center.

The report, Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities: A 50-State Report Card, awards letter grades to public colleges and universities on four equity indicators for black undergraduates: representation equity, gender equity, completion equity, and black-student-to-black-faculty ratio.

Statistics, grades, and Equity Index Scores for 506 public postsecondary institutions are broken down state by state.

Among the findings:

  • Black citizens make up 14.6 percent of 18-24-year-olds across the 50 states, yet only 9.8 percent of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates at public colleges and universities are black.
  • 4 percent of black students completed bachelor’s degrees at public institutions within six years, compared to 50.6 percent of undergraduates overall.
  • 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.

Authored by Shaun R. Harper, a past national conference keynote speaker and the founder and executive director of the Center, and Isaiah Simmons, a research associate, the report calls for states to require public institutions to submit specific black student recruitment plans.

“Undoubtedly, increasing the number of Black recruiters a campus sends to high schools across the state (especially those enrolling high numbers of Black students), to places of religious worship that Black families attend, and to predominantly Black neighborhoods and community centers would help increase a public postsecondary institution’s chances of recruiting more Black undergraduates,” the report offered.

“Diversifying the college admission profession requires intentionality and casting a wider net.”

Read the full report.

Shanda Ivory is NACAC’s director of communications. You can reach her at

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