GW ranks high for number of black doctoral graduates

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GW has the 12th largest number of black doctoral graduates of any school in the country, according to a study released this week.

A total of 106 black students received doctoral degrees from the University, according to the study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The ranking does, however, reflect a four-spot drop from 2006, when GW was ranked in the No. 8 spot, said Mark Fiegener, an analyst at the National Science Foundation, the organization that contracted the study.

Fiegener said the Survey of Earned Doctorates takes a census of every individual who earned his or her doctoral degree from an institution of higher education. In the census, students are asked to give their ethnic background and where they received their degree.

From there, the census findings were complied into a ranking that listed several characteristics shared by people of different ethnic groups who received their doctorates, including which university they attended.

Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said the data offered by the survey helps the University gauge its diversity compared to diversity at other colleges and universities. But assessing diversity does not stop with just one survey, he said.

“Of course it gives us only one slice of the diversity picture. Being globally oriented, as GW is, all of this data needs to be integrated with the full picture of international enrollment to give us full understanding of the diversity of our student body,” Lehman said.

Lehman also said that the variety and quantity of graduate programs at GW may have had a role in the ranking.

He noted that GW offers more than 100 master’s degree programs and 35 doctoral programs, and that admitting a diverse and talented group of students to these programs is considered a priority.

Lehman cited the cultural variety of GW’s student population and the number of international students who come here to study as reasons why the University has graduates a diverse number of doctoral students.

“I do believe that GW is special owing to its openness to all qualified students who apply,” Lehman said, “We work hard to recruit students from around the world. We pay attention to diversity at all levels to ensure our students have the best possible academic experience in the classroom through interactions with a diverse population of classmates.”

Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, said he is proud of the high number of African American doctoral candidates that study at GW.

“I am proud that GW demonstrates its appreciation and respect for diversity because diversity impacts the breadth of the educational experience for all students,” Tapscott said in an e-mail. “I am extremely proud of GW anytime we receive any national, regional, or local distinction. It is additionally exciting when the distinction addresses one of the president’s priorities for our future, specifically the diversity of our student body.”

Tapscott said that the MSSC offers support to all students and while many of their events and programs are tailored more toward assisting undergraduate students, they do try to incorporate the needs of graduate students into their programs as much as possible.

“All graduate students are welcomed to reserve space in our facility for meetings, classes, etc. or stop in the business center to check their e-mail or do a little research on the Internet,” Tapscott said.

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