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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Southern abandons tougher admission standards

Southern University has abandoned, indefinitely, its plan to toughen student admission requirements, Southern System President Ronald Mason Jr. said.

Partly citing “financial reasons,” Mason touched on the issue after a discussion about a new Baton Rouge Area Chamber research paper, titled “Toward a Renaissance at Southern University A&M College.”

The recently released report suggested toughening Southern’s GPA and ACT entrance standards among other recommendations.

Last year, Southern had planned to increase the minimum GPA standard from a 2.0 to a 2.5 — on a 4.0 scale — and to phase in the minimum ACT test score from a 20 to a 22 by 2012. But after facing opposition from the Faculty Senate and others, the decision was made to delay implementation until 2011.

Now, Mason, who became president last summer, said the toughened standards are being indefinitely delayed.

Mason said the focus is on doing a better job of retaining and graduating students under the current admission standards.

Tougher standards typically cause a temporary dip in student enrollment, which is why Mason cited financial concerns from the potential loss of tuition dollars at a time of state budget cuts to colleges and Southern’s problems with already declining student enrollment levels.

Southern’s enrollment has dropped from nearly 9,500 students in 2000 to about 7,300 this past fall.

Southern Chancellor Kofi Lomotey said, there is a “Catch 22” in terms of improving performance at a time of continuing college budget cuts.


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