Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Offfice of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

Sept. 8, 2003

Minorities finding success in NIU doctoral ranks

DeKalb, Ill.--NIU awarded more doctoral degrees in education to African-Americans than any other public university in the nation, according to a recent survey in Black Issues in Higher Education.

The magazine annually publishes its listings of "Top 100 Degree Producers," a national survey of degrees awarded to minority students. The survey was based on U.S. Department of Education data for 2001-2002.

The rankings show that NIU--led by its College of Education--is graduating minority students with doctorates at an impressive clip. Among the highlights:

  • NIU's College of Education awarded doctorates to 19 African-Americans. That total led the nation's public universities in education doctorates. Only four private institutions had higher tallies.
  • In all disciplines combined, NIU awarded 20 doctorates to African-Americans for a national ranking of 24th in Black Issues. Among *peer institutions (non-minority, state-supported), NIU's rank rises to 15th.
  • African-American doctorates represented 16 percent of all NIU doctorate degrees conferred. That percentage is the fifth highest in the nation among peer institutions.
  • In all disciplines combined, NIU awarded 27 minority doctorates for a rank of 67th nationally in Black Issues. Among peer institutions, NIU's rank rises to 10th.

While NIU has been well represented in previous years in the "Top 100" survey, this year's strong showing is believed to be its best at the doctoral ranks.

"The university is succeeding in graduating minorities with advanced degrees, enabling them to go on to leadership positions in their fields," NIU President John Peters said. "I'm proud of our graduates, who serve as role models for generations to come. I'm also proud of the accomplishments of our administrators, faculty and staff."

The rankings demonstrate the university's commitment to diversity, Provost Ivan Legg added.

"The effort to produce more minority doctorates is an important part of NIU's mission to serve the region, because the region is increasingly diverse," he said. "While NIU has developed a warm environment for minorities, our work isn't done. We must continue to diversify not only our student body but also our faculty."

The rankings for minority doctorates could help NIU make a case for more government funding support to build on the university's success, according to Rathindra Bose, NIU vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. "We're doing an extraordinary job with the resources available," Bose said. "But with more resources, we could do more."

NIU now offers several minority fellowship programs, most notably the Rhoten A. Smith Assistantship Program, which provides graduate assistantships to 75 minority students. Additionally, the university provides 30 to 35 tuition-waiver scholarships to minority students pursuing doctoral degrees.

One key factor behind the College of Education's top ranking is the doctoral-degree program in Adult and Higher Education. The broad field encompasses everything from higher education and corporate training to community development and social movements. Program graduates have gone on to work for universities, community colleges, the military, non-profit organizations and the criminal justice system.

"The College of Education has minority students in just about all of our advanced-degree programs, but our recruitment and retention efforts in Adult and Higher Education have been particularly successful," said Christine Sorensen, College of Education dean. "The program recruits African-Americans in Chicago, and faculty deliver up to half of the courses needed for the doctoral degree at Malcolm X College."

Similarly, the College of Education recently began delivering courses toward a doctoral degree in Instructional Technology at Schurz High School in Chicago. Most of the doctoral candidates are minority students, Sorensen said. She noted that her college recently hired seven minority faculty members, including Lemuel Watson, the first African-American chair of the Department of Counseling, Adult and Health Education.

Sorensen also said the college is reaching out with programs for Latinos seeking graduate degrees in elementary education with a bilingual endorsement. Courses are being offered off-campus to students in areas with high concentrations of Latinos, including Aurora, Elgin, Cicero and Chicago.

Black Issues also published rankings for production of undergraduate minority degrees. NIU rankings included: Asian-Americans, all disciplines combined (77th), education (13th), business (49th) and English (47th); Hispanics, all disciplines combined (95th) and education (25th); and African-Americans, English (9th).

* Excludes private universities and historically black colleges and universities