ON PURPOSE: How This HBCU Helps Students Succeed

Posted by Strada Education Network on February 9, 2021

How does Xavier University of Louisiana — a historically Black university home to 3,300 students — produce more Black students who become medical doctors than any other institution in the country? How did XULA come to rank among Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s top 10 universities for improving the economic mobility of low-income students after graduation? And what can other institutions learn from XULA’s success?

In a recent interview on Strada’s “Lessons Earned” podcast, XULA President Reynold Verret outlined how Xavier approaches student success:

  • Focus on faculty. XULA screens faculty candidates for their human skills, their belief in educational equity, and their ability to connect with students.
  • Believe in and teach the students you have. Not all students arrive at college having had the education they deserve, Verret said.
  • Prioritize collaboration over competition. Xavier faculty challenge students to collaborate and ask: “How do we all come across the finish line?”
  • Build a culture of service. Regardless of what areas of study they pursue, XULA students understand their learning “will have meaning when they put it to the service of another person,” Verret said. That culture of service helps students look outside of themselves to find their passion and their purpose.
  • Begin at the beginning — long before college. Setting up students for success starts with parents and elementary school teachers who encourage students’ interests and demonstrate confidence in their capabilities. “That talent is there,” Verret said, “and that talent needs to be cultivated.”

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