UTRGV joins national initiative to increase graduation rates for underrepresented minority students

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – MARCH 23, 2016 – As part of a national initiative to help increase graduation rates for black and Latino/a college students across the United States, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will collaborate with higher education leaders across the country to start dialogue on how to improve outcomes for underrepresented minorities.

To start closing the gaps and ensure more underrepresented minority (URM) students earn a bachelor’s degree, The Education Trust recently launched OASIS – Optimizing Academic Success and Institutional Strategy – an initiative that brings together 11 regional, comprehensive, minority-serving institutions that educate large URM populations to collectively achieve a shared goal of improving graduation rates.

“UTRGV is among the largest Hispanic Serving Institutions in our country, and as such we are in a unique position to help move the dialogue forward,” said Guy Bailey, founding president of UTRGV. “Student success is one of our four key missions, and to that end we explore every opportunity to make students our priority. We look forward to a rewarding collaboration with other institutions of higher learning that benefits us all.”

The Education Trust says that, in the past decade, the college graduation rate gap between white and underrepresented minority students has been less than 1 percent. Among students who begin at four-year institutions, six-year graduation rates for white students are more than 20 points greater than for black students and 11 points greater than for Latino/a students.

The OASIS network will enable senior university leaders to work together to analyze each college’s data, share their insights and expand the use of evidence-based practices on their campuses. This network comprises four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), six Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and one institution that serves a large percentage of African American students.

“A college degree is the surest path to upward mobility. Yet only half of Latino and black students who start college with the intent to earn a bachelor’s do so within six years,” said Bonita J. Brown, Education Trust director of higher education practice. “To help more students achieve their educational dreams, colleges must transform their practices to better serve their students. The OASIS institutions are tackling that challenge head on.”

The OASIS participating institutions are:


  • Florida A&M University
  • Morgan State University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • University of Memphis (not an HBCU, but serves a large percentage of African American students)


  • California State University, Fullerton
  • California State University, Fresno
  • Florida International University
  • Queens College, City University of New York
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • University of Houston


The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement.

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
Jennifer.McGehee@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of Public Relations