Program declared a model

When it comes to recruiting and retaining students of color, nobody does it better in the state than Washington State University, so says the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. In addition to naming it the state’s “model program,” OSPI used a U.S. Department of Education grant to fund a just-completed video/CD to be distributed to high school and community college administrators and counselors statewide, as well as to other state officials.

The 18-minute video features comments from a variety of students, faculty and administrators, including V. Lane Rawlins, president; Charlene Jaeger, vice president of student services; Milt Lang, special assistant to the president; Felicia Gaskins, associate vice provost for human relations and diversity; Steve Nakata, director for the Office of Multicultural Student Services; Manuel Acevedo, associate director of multicultural student services; Herb Delaney, assistant director of community relations and multicultural student services, and others.

The video is split into three segments addressing recruiting, retention and student success.

WSU’s recruiting and retaining program was recognized by OSPI because of its creative team approach, involving public school educators, families and the university community.

Ethnic enrollment at WSU, which was at 310 students or 2.6 percent in 1968, climbed almost steadily every year until 1998 when it hit 2,344 or 13.2 percent.

In 1999, however, the Legislature passed I-200. Even though WSU did not use race as a factor in admitting students, “we saw a decline in the number of students of color admitted for the first time in 15 years,” said Delaney.

WSU “stepped up its outreach efforts, which put us back on a record pace,” Delaney said. By fall 2001, WSU’s students of color enrollment had increased to 2,356 students.

The video highlights the WSU’s five-step team approach to recruiting, including:

• developing a relationship with students — spearheaded by 58 student telecounselors statewide

• an initial follow-up regarding financial aid, admissions and other issues

• multicultural recruitment programs with speakers and counselors visiting schools

• a second student follow-up

• celebration and transition into university life

The second phase of the video focuses on retention.

A sense of community and support for academic achievement is fostered through peer and professional counseling and advising, and programs in four student centers. Students also have the opportunity to develop leadership skills by participating in any of 40 student organizations.

The third and final portion of the video features successful alumni who credit WSU, in large part, for their success.

“Dr. Andrew Griffin, assistant superintendent of Public Instruction was impressed by the developmental approach that WSU uses in recruiting students,” said Gaskins. “The fact that we begin working with students as early as middle school and continue through college was an approach he found innovative and inspiring. He felt that others could learn from this approach.”

“This type of recognition from an organization such as OSPI doesn’t happen without the commitment from the WSU community as a whole,” said Lang. “OSPI oversees the certification of the K – 12 system throughout the state. We are honored to have earned approval from an organization that is so highly committed to recruiting and retention and fully understands its value and importance. All of us should be very proud of our accomplishment regarding the recruitment and retention of students of color,” said Lang.

The video will be available from the Office of Human Relations and Diversity, 335-8888.

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