GW got a pat on the back from Black Enterprise magazine when the publication’s first-ever list of the best schools for African-American students hit newsstands late last month.
The University was ranked No. 36 on the list in Black Enterprise‘s January issue. Magazine executives said the rankings are based on more than 1,000 interviews with African-American professionals in higher education, and on subjective criteria including the percentage of black students and the graduation rate for African Americans.
“I feel gratified and also think it’s appropriate that GW be on this list,” said GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg at a Dec. 8 Black Enterprise news conference. “It’s an inspiration for all of us to strive to do better.”
Spelman College in Atlanta tops the list followed by Morehouse College, Florida A&M University, Clark Atlanta University and Howard University. Nearby Georgetown University ranked No. 11 on the overall list and No. 2 among the top five national universities that are not historically black.
“We’d like Howard, Spelman and Morehouse to be on their toes – we’re coming after them,” Trachtenberg said.
Black Enterprise Publisher and CEO Earl Graves said the list will enable African-American students to choose the “best college to attend from an educational and a nurturing perspective.”
Howard University President Pat Swygert, who also was on hand for the magazine’s announcement, said he hopes the ranking “spurs schools to strive to make this list.”
“If education is about the actualization and the realization of the American democratic ideal, I think we should encourage institutions not only to continue, but to come into being,” Swygert said.
“What I think is important is we have a very interesting collection of schools that are nurturing of students of color,” Trachtenberg said.
Black Enterprise teamed with DayStar Research to compile the list, which was culled from a pool of 987 four-year colleges and universities with at least a 1.5 percent African-American enrollment or those that would be of interest to black students. Eight percent of GW’s student population was African-American during the 1996-’97 academic year, according to the magazine.
DayStar CEO Thomas LaVeist said the project has been in development for years.
“For many years, I had been talking to African-American students and professors and seen that African-American students were not doing well at some colleges because they had not made the right choices,” said LaVeist, a professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University.
“They solely looked at the academic programs without considering the social environment. So, I decided to help them make better choices by reviewing all aspects of college life,” LaVeist said.
LaVeist’s study gives each school a score from zero to 5,000, with No. 1 Spelman College garnering 4,144 points and GW earning 3,552. Among the respondents to DayStar’s survey of higher education professionals, GW received an average 4.42 out of five for its academic environment and 4.27 for its social atmosphere.
“I always approach these lists with skepticism, but I admit to being vulnerable to doing well,” Trachtenberg said.