Commencement Commitment: Equity in Degree Completion

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:01

Alan Byrd, Jr. and Allison Williams

This month on campuses across our region and our country, students will toss caps in the air and celebrate earning a college degree after years of hard work. To those students, we offer sincere congratulations – we are proud of you and your accomplishments.

For too many students, however, the dream of a postsecondary degree is a dream deferred.  

In the St. Louis region, 41.3 percent of adults have an associate’s degree or higher, but only 26.7 percent of African Americans do.  St. Louis has made steady progress increasing degree attainment overall, moving from 25th among the top 35 metropolitan areas in the country in 2007 to 21st in 2015. Yet when it comes to degree attainment for African Americans, we’ve actually dropped from 28th in 2007 to 31st in 2010, and that’s where the region remains as of 2015.

With a 14-point gap in degree completion by race, we have a systemic crisis in St. Louis. 

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This op-ed appeared May 15, 2018 in the St. Louis American newspaper. 

Written by St. Louis Graduates Co-Chairs Alan Byrd, Jr., Vice Provost of Enrollment Management, and Allison Williams, Senior Vice President-Programs at Wyman.