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University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Donald N

Background

USM Plan to Improve Minority Achievement

Tied directly to its 10-year strategic plan, the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents approved a plan to improve the enrollment and retention rates of minorities, as well as increase the level of representation of minority graduate students, faculty, and staff at all institutions in the USM. The plan, approved at the Board's December 7, 2001 meeting has been implemented by the System's 13 institutions. USM institutions have developed their own initiatives based on the plan, all of which are expected to contain specific goals and benchmarks for measuring progress.

While minority enrollment and six-year graduation rates have been rising at many USM campuses in recent years, the Minority Achievement Plan approved by the Regents describes steps the System and its institutions will take in response to Maryland's changing demographics and the need to educate a diverse workforce. The achievement plan calls for better recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority undergraduates, and also improvement in the enrollment and graduation rates of minority students in graduate and professional degree programs. The plan also calls on the institutions to reflect Maryland's demographics among their faculties and staffs.

The strategic plan, The USM in 2010: Responding to the Challenges that Lie Ahead, states that not only will Maryland's college-age population (15-24 year-olds) experience a surge in growth (the so-called "baby boom echo"), but that its minority population will account for two-thirds of that surge. (The strategic plan is available online at /10yrplan/index.html.)

"The State's non-white population is expected to increase by almost 300,000 over the next 10 years," the plan says. "Between 2000 and 2010, the number of traditional college-age minorities will grow by 32 percent - compared to a 24 percent increase in the number of non-minorities."

Overall, Maryland's 15-24 year-old segment is expected to surge by 171,000 or 27 percent during the next decade. The USM expects about 7,600 more full-time traditional undergraduates in that span.

In October 1999, the State of Maryland entered a partnership agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for the purposes of improving the educational opportunities for African Americans in Maryland's public institutions of higher learning and ensuring compliance with the State's obligations under federal law. Although the Minority Achievement Plan was not required by the agreement, the measurements in the plan will be used to report progress in meeting the goals of the OCR agreement.

According to the Minority Achievement Plan, beginning in 10th grade, Maryland minorities will be offered college-readiness programs, community outreach programs, and mentoring opportunities. They also will experience new recruitment strategies, as well as services targeting specific disciplines. Once they matriculate, they will be eligible for online courses, mentoring, and specialized academic advising. At the graduate level, career development will be emphasized. Institutions will also hold an annual conference on recruitment and retention, sharing the "best practices" for achieving the goals outlined in the plan.

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The University System of Maryland is governed by a 17-member Board of Regents and includes 13 distinct and complementary institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State College; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University, University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute; University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and University of Maryland University College.