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Salem State lauded for Latino success; voted seventh in US and first in New England

Meier Hall at Salem State University. (Spenser Hasak)

SALEM – Salem State University has been named a Top 10 performing institution for Latino student success and the only New England school to make the list, according to a report by the Education Trust.

The survey, “A Look at Latino Student Success: Identifying Top- and Bottom-Performing Institutions,” did not come as a surprise to Lynn School Committeeman Brian Castellanos, a 2016 graduate of the school.

“The school has been very proactive, especially when it comes to diversity,” he said. “The administration takes lots of time to survey the campus climate and institutional advancement.”  

The study found Salem State ranked seventh in the country among similar institutions, with a 46.7 percent Latino student graduation rate versus 48.2 percent for white students. Seventeen percent of Salem State students identify as Latino.

Salem State enrolls more than 9,000 students and offers nearly three dozen degrees in 24 fields, according to its website.

The school’s overall six-year graduation rate is 52 percent, a 15-point increase over the past 10 years, the report said. The university’s graduation rate for transfer students is 63 percent.

“As we celebrate this recognition and the efforts that have gone into achieving it, we also recognize that there is much more work to be done to drive the success of all of our students and close the achievement gap that exists for students of color,” said Scott James, the school’s executive vice president, in a statement. “Student success is a top priority at this institution, and this report is an encouraging indicator that the ongoing efforts of our faculty, staff and students are building results and momentum.”

The Latino population is the fastest growing population in the U.S., and with that comes an increase in Latino students enrolling in college, according to Pew Research. Latino student success continues to lag their white counterparts, with whites 2½  times more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than Latinos, according to the Education Trust.

In recent years, Salem State said it has worked to close graduation gaps and increase overall graduation rates by adding faculty and staff members of color.

In 2016, 18 percent of the faculty are minorities, up from 17 percent in 2015, according to Salem State.  Among staff, 19 percent are minorities, up from 17 percent in fall 2015.

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