Plan 2008 focuses on increasing retention and graduation rates

· Oct 10, 2001 Tweet

There is really no question about what the most controversial and hard-hitting issue on the UW-Madison campus is today. From protests to funding requests, minority and majority students alike have expressed interest in increasing diversity on campus. The Badger Herald will outline the seven stated goals of Plan 2008, the system-wide initiative to increase diversity at UW schools across the state by the year 2008.

The third, and perhaps most complicated goal of Plan 2008 is to close the gap in educational achievement by making retention and graduation rates for students of color equivalent to those of the student body as a whole.

“There is approximately a 20-point gap in retention and graduation rates between students of color and white students,” said Paul Barrows, vice chancellor of student affairs and co-chair for the Plan 2008 Oversight Committee.

Barrows said this gap is seen only at the undergraduate level.

“Retention rates for students of color at the graduate student level are as good or better than white students,” he said.

In order to reverse this trend, Plan 2008 is attempting to understand why it’s occurring. According to Cleveland James, the associate director of minority admissions, there are a variety of reasons why students of color do not stay at UW-Madison as long as white students.

“It is definitely a combination of personal issues, financial problems and not feeling comfortable with the campus climate,” James said.

Barrows said factors other than academic performance make students of color leave campus before graduation.

“Students of color have lower retention rates because of a combination of climate and financial reasons — especially for non-residents. With our tuition increase, Wisconsin is at the top of the Big Ten for out-of-state students,” Barrows said.

Students of color often have lower family incomes than many white students and are more likely to pay for their education on their own, Barrows said.

ASM is working with the Plan 2008 Oversight Committee to meet its goals. ASM’s Plan 2008 Campaign is led by Jason Davis, who believes that along with increasing diversity on campus, educating the entire student body is one of the best ways to make students of color feel comfortable at UW-Madison.

“We have the ethnic studies requirement, but we also need to start effectively creating events where students of all races and cultures can mingle and experience each other in a face-to-face manner, where they can feel comfortable, safe and that their views are being represented and respected,” Davis said.

According to ASM, to achieve the third goal, there must be success in achieving goal four, which is increasing the amount of financial aid available to students to reduce their reliance on loans.

Dean of Students Alicia Chavez said many highly qualified students of color do not come to this campus, solely because of lack of financial support.

“UW-Madison’s biggest competitors, such as University of Michigan, are well-known for giving many more scholarships and other forms of financial aid,” Chavez said.

Barrows said those students in need of more financial aid are not just students of color. Students from many backgrounds request and need financial aid.

Plan 2008 emphasizes the need to increase the number of scholarships and grants for all students.


This article was published Oct 10, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 10, 2001 at 12:00 am


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