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Selective admissions: another milestone for Southern University – Column

Last year the Southern University, Board of Supervisors officially
revealed its plan for the Southern University Baton Rouge campus to
replace its long-standing policy of open admission selective admission.
Thus, instead of admitting every student that applies regardless of
academic merit — as was the tradition — admission will now be based
on the ability of of prospective students to meet certain set academic
criteria. By this pronouncement, the hoard has created another
milestone in the history of the university’ which oversees the
operation of the three campuses of the Southern University System,
located in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport Bossier City.

The idea of selective admission had been under consideration for
some time. But the fear that this type of admission might go against
the institution’s mission by denying education to many students of
color in and around the state and, indeed, the country at large,
necessitated a prolonged and thorough preliminary investigation to
identify likely adverse impacts in order to design measures to
minimize, if not eliminate, them completely.

In essence this occasion represents another landmark in the
institution’s history of survival, success, access and vitality in
providing college education for the poor and the underprivileged who
otherwise have been denied the ticket to climb the ladder to better
living standards.

Selective admission at Southern University Baton Rouge is by design
planned to coincide with the birth of the Baton Rouge Community
College. The community college, established by the state government,
will serve as a feeder institution to Southern University Baton Rouge
by adequately preparing students for university work. Given the present
conducive atmosphere for selective admission and the on-going
preparation for its final implementation by the university
administration, the Southern University system should become further

Historically Black institutions have the: unique ability to, in the
words of one scholar, reach the unreachable, teach the unteachable: and
embrace troth the rejected-and the valedictorians with equal concern.

The selective admission process is to he administered at Baton
Rouge in a manner that w ill enhance the institution’s tradition of
providing educational access. It is designed to encourage students to
persist discourage dropping out, lower the rate of attrition, stimulate
student advancement, and increase the number of students who graduate.
It is also expected to reduce the time it takes to graduate, so that
the majority of the students can obtain their degrees within four to
six years. Available research literature suggests that when better
prepared students are admitted for college work, they are more inclined
to remain in school until they earn their degrees.

As a result of the introduction of the selective admission system,
a redirection of energy and other resources at Southern University
Baton Rouge campus becomes a necessity. Consequently, the part of the
budget usually spent on remedial education and development can now be
used for increasing the salaries of current staff to make their
earnings comparable to those of other institutions in order to boost
their morale. The additional funds can also be used to recruit and
retain additional quality faculty and staff. The quality and
performance of students are expected to improve, and better facilities
and newer programs should come into the university as it forges ahead
into the next millennium.

Given this fact, selective admission process w ill he a win-win
situation for Southern University and its multiple stakeholders, which
include students, parents, industry, community, philanthropists, and

Marcus S. Babaoye, Research Associate, Office of the Vice President for Planning and Evaluation Southern University

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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