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March 5, 1998

Pitt will improve efforts to recruit, retain, graduate black students, chancellor tells Board of Trustees

Echoing a recent report by Vice Provost Jack Daniel, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg told the Board of Trustees Feb. 19 that Pitt can no longer be satisfied merely with recruiting African American students — the University must work harder to see that more of those students earn good grades and degrees, and go on to successful careers.

Nordenberg said he, Daniel and Provost James Maher will lead a comprehensive effort to improve minority student recruitment, retention and graduation here.

Among first-time, full-time Pittsburgh campus freshmen who entered the University between 1985 through 1992 (the most recent years for which statistics are available), 17 percent of blacks graduated within four years, compared with 39 percent for whites and 21 percent for all minorities.

After six years, the graduation rates were 41 percent for blacks, 66 percent for whites and 46 percent for all minorities.

Nordenberg added, "If we really want to be effective, we need to make certain that our diversity initiatives mesh with and advance the broader goals of the institution," including the improvement of academic performance among all Pitt undergraduates.

The University need not compromise quality in diversifying its student body and work force, the chancellor said in his annual affirmative action report to the board.

"We have three examples in this room," Nordenberg said, citing Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement Carol Carter; Deborah Furka, director of Public Safety and chief of police; and Ana Guzman, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management.

Carter became Pitt's chief fundraiser when Nordenberg hired her last winter. Furka was named as Pitt's new police chief in December and took office this month. Guzman, interim head of Facilities Management for the last 17 months, was appointed to the permanent job Feb. 19.

None of those jobs had ever been held by a woman before at Pitt. Nordenberg noted that Public Safety and Facilities Management ("cops and construction," he quipped) traditionally have been male bastions.

Furka and Guzman were appointed by Assistant Chancellor Jerome Cochran. Alluding with a grin to Cochran's hard-boiled reputation, the chancellor said: "Jerry shoulders an increasingly broad load of responsibility within the institution and is known for many things. I have never heard him labeled a bleeding heart liberal, on the other hand. He is simply a person who recognizes talent and knows what it takes to get it, whether that means reaching outside [the University] or whether it means promoting from within." Nordenberg cited a wide range of Pittsburgh campus affirmative action statistics, both in his statements to the board and in a written report.

Minority students, faculty and staff African Americans made up 9.5 percent of the Pittsburgh campus undergraduate enrollment of 16,180 last fall, the same percentage as in fall 1996.

Total minority enrollment increased slightly, from 14.6 percent to 14.8 percent.

But black and total minority entering freshman enrollments were down for the second year in a row — from 11.7 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively, in fall 1996 to 9.5 percent and 15.3 percent in fall 1997.

The fall 1997 freshman class included 304 African Americans, down from 323 the previous fall and 42 students short of the Pittsburgh campus record set in fall 1995.

Black and total minority graduate enrollments last fall stood at 5.6 percent and 10.3 percent of the campus total, up from 5.3 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in fall 1996.

African American first professional enrollment declined for the second year in a row, from 6.5 percent in fall 1996 to 5.9 percent in fall 1997, while total minority enrollment remained about the same at 18 percent.

The percentage of degrees awarded to African Americans last year increased at the baccalaureate (6.7 percent), master's (5.4 percent) and doctoral (4.4 percent) levels, but declined slightly at the first professional degree level. The percentage of degrees awarded to the total minority student population increased at all degree levels.

The number of tenured black full-time faculty decreased by one to 38 (3.4 percent) for fall 1997. The number of tenure-stream black full-time faculty declined from 19 (5.7 percent) to 18 but increased in percentage to 6.2 percent from fall 1996 to fall 1997. Total minority full-time faculty representation increased slightly from 14.5 percent to 14.8 percent from fall 1996 to fall 1997.

African Americans made up 12.1 percent of full-time staff in fall 1997, ranging from 27 percent in the service/maintenance category to 6.8 percent among skilled crafts workers. Total minority full-time staff representation was 14.9 percent last fall.

Women students, faculty and staff Women continued to comprise 53 percent of the undergraduate enrollment and 52 percent of graduate students last fall.

Female students accounted for 50 percent of baccalaureate, 53 percent of master's, 40 percent of doctoral and 42 percent of first professional degrees awarded here last year.

Female tenured and tenure-stream, full-time faculty remained at 19 percent and 36 percent in fall 1997.

Women continued to make up 62 percent of full-time staff last fall, accounting for 90 percent of secretarial/clerical employees, 63 percent of other professionals, 27 percent of service/maintenance workers and less than 5 percent in the skilled crafts.

* Nordenberg did not report statistics for Pitt's four regional campuses, where African American enrollments declined from 146 students in fall 1990 to 102 students in fall 1996, according to the University's Office of Institutional Research.

During that same time, white enrollments at the regional campus decreased from 6,314 students to 6,177.

— Bruce Steele

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