November 13, 2015 – One of the nation’s leading journals in diversity recently ranked a Fort Valley State University degree program as number one in the nation for producing the highest number of African-American graduates in mathematics. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, ranked FVSU as number one in the country for producing graduates in the field of mathematics and statistics. The school outranked major national institutions that included Harvard University and Georgetown University (tied for #36). The campus also beat all Georgia institutions such as the University of Georgia (which ranked at #50), Georgia State University (ranked at #9), and HBCUs Spelman College (ranked at #3), Morehouse College (ranked at #4). Savannah State University (ranked at #6) and Albany State University (ranked at #22).
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education has produced its Top 100 Degree Producers list since 2011. It ranks universities that confer the highest number of undergraduate and graduate degrees to minority students every year. Current rankings include totals from previous years from 2010-2014 and breaks down individual rankings lists by majors. The journal tabulated rankings based on institutional reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.
According to Dr. Dawit Aberra, chair of FVSU’s mathematics and computer sciences department, there are several factors that have earned the degree program top honors for a third year. Aberra said the university’s mathematics program is highly competitive, and committed to providing quality academic instruction.
“One thing we do differently is that we limit the number of students in our mathematics classes to 25,” Aberra said. “We have a quality enhancement program that focuses helping our students to improve their critical thinking skills. We also have dedicated mathematics faculty that not only know how to teach, but to do research in their professions, and to help our students.”
The chair says FVSU also holds a recruiting program every fall to help attract bright mathematics majors to the campus called “Math in the Valley Day.” Five area high schools bring students to campus, where they participate in mathematics competitions.
Aberra also believes the university’s Cooperative Developmental Energy Program played a significant role in attracting high-quality students. CDEP is a program that helps minority students and women pursue energy-related careers. The students earn two bachelor’s degrees in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics related field from FVSU, and an energy-related one from a partner institution in health physics, engineering and the geosciences The process to earn the two bachelor’s degrees takes five years.
“Many of the CDEP students major in mathematics more than any of the degree programs,” Dr. Isaac Crumbly, vice president of collaborative programs and director of CDEP, said. “As you know, we also offer biology, chemistry and mathematics in the CDEP program. The majority of CDEP students will have a higher graduation rate, so that certainly contributes to the high numbers of African-Americans graduating in mathematics from FVSU.”
Crumbly said he was proud the campus would be retaining the title as the top graduate producer for African-Americans in mathematics for a second year in a row, and for a third one in five years.
“I’m absolutely proud of the department of mathematics and computers sciences, and I am even more proud of our entire institution as a whole, because anything we do as individuals at a college or institutional level, it’s for the institution and our students more than anything else. In other words, it provides FVSU with a significant national recognition to have this award for having graduated African-Americans and other underrepresented students. There are over 4,000 universities in this country, and that FVSU ranks number one in the STEM disciplines, one of the most challenging ones, is a real credit to the university and the math department and to CDEP for being able to recruit top students and provide academic and scholarship support for them.”
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