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Towson, UMBC excel at graduating minorities, studies find

Towson University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County are national leaders in graduating black and Hispanic students at similar rates to their white peers, according to studies released this week by the Education Trust.

Towson was one of 11 institutions hailed by the Education Trust, a nonprofit group that works to lower the achievement gaps for minority students, for maintaining low graduation gaps for both black and Hispanic students.

At Towson, 69.6 percent of Hispanic students graduated within six years for the classes that finished college between 2006 and 2008 compared with 66.7 percent of white students. During the same period, 66.9 percent of black students graduated from Towson within six years. The university placed sixth in the study's ranking of Hispanic graduation gaps and 21st in the ranking of gaps for black students.

"What's interesting is that a couple of years ago, Towson wouldn't have showed up on this list," said Jennifer Engle, who co-wrote the study. "But they've brought up their numbers while also admitting more minority students. It's very impressive."

Like many of the universities on the list, Towson has leaders who are focused on boosting graduation rates and a well-organized system for identifying and intervening with struggling students, Engle said.

At UMBC, 60.4 percent of black students graduated within six years between 2006 and 2008 compared with 59.8 percent of white students.

Nationally, black and Hispanic students trail their white counterparts by double-digit rates in obtaining bachelor's degrees, according to the studies, which focused on 293 public universities and 163 private, nonprofit colleges.

No Maryland institutions ranked near the bottom in either category.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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