Published: Wed Mar 10, 2004Tennessee Tech University is an institution with real staying power. Just ask the 61 African-American students who were entering freshmen last semester.
Each of those students chose to return to TTU for another semester of study, making this the first time in the university’s history to have a 100 percent success rate in retaining its African-American freshmen.
“In the last few years, that rate of retention has been increasing, but this is the first year for it to hit 100 percent,” said Jamie Mells, TTU’s director of Minority Affairs.
Ashley Thompson, a basic business major from Memphis, said part of the reason she chose to return to TTU this semester is because Minority Affairs and other campus sources introduced her to so many helpful, positive people on campus.
“I like TTU because people just seem willing to stick together here,” she said. “It’s hard for freshmen just starting college, coming together from all different places, but you just can’t give up or go somewhere else after one semester. You have to give yourself time to adjust, and I’ve met a lot of great people here who’ve helped me do that.”
Mells attributes the success, in part, to his department’s thriving partnerships with TTU’s Admissions and Student Orientation Offices.
“We include letters and other information about Minority Affairs in admissions packets, and we participate during freshman orientation and pre-registration each summer,” Mells said. “That way, we can introduce students and their families to Minority Affairs in the beginning of their academic career.”
Minority Affairs also makes a practice of presenting a significant amount of programming, activities and social events in the beginning weeks of each fall semester.
“Those are just some of the ways we’re working to show our campus, our alumni and our community that we are serious about increasing minority enrollment at TTU,” he said.
Statistics show those efforts are working. In addition to its retention success this academic year, TTU last year received the first-ever Tennessee Board of Regents’ Spirit of Geier Award. It recognizes institutions or individuals who have shown exceptional commitment implementing the intent of the Geier Consent Decree, which calls for equal opportunities in higher education for African-American students.
There are a total of 375 African-American students currently enrolled at TTU.