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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Recognized as National Leader in Helping Underrepresented Students Succeed

By Keith Pierce

Old Dominion University scored among the top 10% of U.S. colleges and universities in the 2019 Social Mobility Index (SMI), according to CollegeNET, a leader in supporting social mobility in higher education.

Now in its sixth year, the SMI is a data-driven analysis that benchmarked 1,458 four-year higher education institutions based on how effectively they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them into well-paying jobs.

"The SMI ranking is a testament to Old Dominion's commitment to social mobility and our multi-layered approach to help all students succeed," President John R. Broderick said.

He noted that underrepresented students make up nearly 48% of the University's 24,400 students and that nearly half of ODU's freshmen are first-generation college students.

The new CollegeNet social mobility rankings also show that:

- Old Dominion moved up more than 80 spots since last year.

- ODU was ranked No. 2 in social mobility among all four-year institutions in Virginia.

- Three institutions in Hampton Roads were among the top 20% in the country. The others are Hampton and Norfolk State universities.

The rankings come just months after U.S. News & World Report ranked Old Dominion as one of the nation's Top Public Schools as well as among the best in ethnic diversity and a top university for social mobility. The Education Trust ranks ODU among the 15 best schools in the country in terms of African American student success. Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranks ODU 14th nationally in the number of African American students who graduate every year.

Military Times recognized ODU as one of the nation's "Best for Vets" schools.

Old Dominion has also held two National Symposiums on Social Mobility, attracting dozens of experts from around the country, and created the Center for Social Mobility, which researches best practices and shares them with other institutions.

Citing ODU's commitment to diversity and student success, Gov. Ralph Northam recently chose Old Dominion as the site to announce a $500,000 educational equity grant from Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation. The grant is designed to help the Commonwealth increase educational achievement for students of color by 5 percentage points over the next four years.

Virginia is focusing on students who have traditionally been left behind as it works toward its goal of being the best-educated state by 2030.

CollegeNET recognizes schools that are advancing social mobility through innovative programs. At ODU, these include key academic and support initiatives such as targeted success coaching, financial resources that address the total cost of attendance, programs for first-generation students and a focus on STEM-H disciplines.

"By removing barriers that prevent disadvantaged students from accessing higher education and preparing them for STEM-H jobs, ODU is not only increasing its economic opportunity and social mobility but also ensuring Virginia's job pipeline is filled by a well-educated, career-ready and diverse workforce," Broderick said.

To learn more about CollegeNET's 2019 social mobility rankings, visit https://www.socialmobilityindex.org

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