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March 5, 1998


To the editor:

I wish to make two points regarding the report on Vice Provost Jack Daniel's report on black student retention and graduate rates (University Times, Feb. 19, 1998).

First, as a member of the black faculty/staff committee that was charged to consider the report, I can report that, contrary to implications of the Times article, our meetings were not characterized by hostility and antagonism. The meetings were conducted in a quiet, concerned and positive manner. The thrust of our response, as can be seen in our written report, was to build on the disturbing findings and positive suggestions made by Daniel.

Second, and more importantly, a startling figure in Daniel's report has received almost no publicity. Briefly put: The graduation rate for black student athletes stands at 54 percent, which is substantially higher than the figure of 41 percent for all black undergraduates. (The figures are calculated over six years from the date of matriculation.) This 32 percent higher graduation rate, I must assume, is a tribute both to the athletes and to the Athletic Department's "Academic Student Support Services for Student Athletes." As is well known, athletes are recruited more on the basis of athletic than academic potential, and are subjected to a brutal regimen of practice and travel. If Pitt can graduate 54 percent of black student athletes, it seems to me it should be able to graduate at least 60 percent of its other black students, thereby attaining a figure not that far below the graduation rate of 66 percent that typifies the experience for all Pitt undergraduates, black and white. At the very least, the "Academic Student Support Services for Student Athletes" merits recognition and, perhaps, emulation.

Laurence Glasco

Associate Professor Department of History

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