The following is a statement issued by Southern University at New Orleans, in preparation for the institution’s 2011 commencement ceremony this Saturday.
Four-hundred-forty-two (442) persons will graduate from Southern University at New Orleans during the 2011 Commencement on Saturday, May 7th, 3:45 p.m. at the Kiefer Lakefront Arena. However, only 14 of these students will count towards SUNO’s graduation rate. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which calculates graduation rates for the nation’s institutions of higher learning, bases a college or university’s graduation rate on the number of full-time students who earn their degrees within six years.
“In keeping with our previous open-access mission, many of our students take longer to graduate, in some cases seven, eight years or more. Most of our student body is comprised of working adults, ages 25 and older, and many of them pursue their studies on a part-time basis. Prior to Fall 2010 we were still an open admissions institution, a designation which mandated us to admit practically anyone who wanted to pursue a college education,” says Victor Ukpolo, Ph.D., SUNO’s chancellor. “While we anticipate that future SUNO student body may still be comprised by a majority of persons ages 25 and older, the selective admission criteria that we implemented in Fall 2010, in adherence to the GRAD Act, and our on-going efforts to improve retention bode well for more of our students to graduate within six years.”
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, 637 students graduated from SUNO in spring 2005. Post-Katrina, 304 students graduated in spring 2006; 454 in spring 2007; 388 in spring 2008; 387 in spring 2009; and 374 in spring 2010. The 442 graduates for spring 2011 represent SUNO’s second-highest total number of graduates, post-Katrina. Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address during the commencement, which begins with a processional at 3:45 p.m.