Dr. Steve Roberson, dean of undergraduate studies, and Kristen Christman, director of undergraduate student excellence, were interviewed about the Washington-based Education Trust organization study that cited UNCG as a leader for diversity in education. Christman and Roberson were both cited by News 14 Carolina; Roberson was referenced by Diverse Education.

According to the report, graduation rates for black students jumped from 52.3 percent in 2010 to 60.1 percent in 2011. Since 2002, UNCG has graduated black students at comparable or higher rates than white students.

Roberson had many positive comments regarding UNCG’s diversity.

“UNCG has a welcoming and inclusive spirit,” said Roberson. “That, to me, is really the only explanation that seems plausible. That atmosphere is self-authored by this university and by the communities themselves. It’s a grassroots explanation.”

As well, he said, “this campus is the most diverse in the UNC system. When You have that level of diversity … You don’t feel as if you’re isolated. You feel part of a community.”

He continued by saying that it is that sense of community that has helped UNCG’s African-American students graduate at rates equal to or better than white students every year since 2002.

“There are almost no academic supports that are designed for one race or one ethnicity. They are really color-blind,” Roberson said.

The UNCG Guarantee program, funded by an anonymous $6 million gift, is an important staple in this success, as it has benefited economically disadvantaged students, enabling them to graduate debt-free. Christman cited money as an important factor.

“Their family income cannot exceed about $23,000 for a family of four,” she said.

The program provides tuition for about 30 students each year, and currently helps about 100.

“These are people who couldn’t afford to go to college…If you talk to them personally they’ll tell you how grateful they are for the program,” Christman said.

The UNCG Guarantee program is not just about financial aid, but about giving students the tools to succeed.

“Our students in a comparison group out perform their peers,” Christman said.

Roberson has some closing thoughts on the potential of the program for continued positive Education Trust results.

“Every saved person is a victory for us, and when we start talking about scores and scores of students…who are breaking the cycle of poverty, those are successes,” Roberson said.