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Student Diversity At The Mercer University School Of Engineering: Retention And Graduation

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Retention Issues

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1156.1 - 11.1156.10



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Paper Authors


Andre Butler Mercer University

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André Butler is an assistant professor of environmental and mechanical engineering at Mercer University. His research interests include pollutant measurement of the ambient atmosphere (ozone and particulate matter), air quality health effects, and design and development of particulate matter measurement instruments.

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Priscilla Hicks Mercer University

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Priscilla Hicks is an administrative coordinator at Mercer University. Her research interests include obesity and the onset of diabetes, prevalence of asthma among children who are exposed to secondhand environmental tobacco smoke, and HIV/AIDS.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Student Diversity at the Mercer University School of Engineering


Many colleges and universities have developed strategies to increase diversity in their engineering programs. Such strategies include providing support services (mentoring, academic and professional development workshops, tutoring, etc.), summer programs, and focused recruitment of target student populations. Although results of these efforts, in general, indicate that some progress has been made over the years regarding the recruitment, retention, and graduation of under-represented minorities and women in engineering, significant discrepancies still exist and much work remains.

Over the past ten years at Mercer, African-Americans have comprised 17.1% of students enrolled in engineering, while women have comprised 31.1%, on average. In addition, African-Americans and women represent a sizeable fraction of each graduating class (14.8% and 32.0%, respectively). These numbers are higher than those observed in many other engineering schools across the country. Five-year graduation rates for African- Americans (as well as other under-represented minorities) and women at Mercer, however, are more in line with observations at other engineering schools.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate student-body diversity, retention, and graduation rates at the Mercer University School of Engineering in light of national trends. While a cursory look at the data may indicate a significant measure of success, there are always opportunities for improvement, some of which will be discussed.


Mercer University, founded in 1833, is a small, private, comprehensive institution of higher learning located in Macon, GA. The school of engineering (MUSE) was begun in 1985 and earned accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in 1990 for a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree with specialties offered in electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering. MUSE hit its stride in the early 1990s, and now also offers specialties in biomedical engineering, computer engineering, environmental engineering, industrial management, and technical communication. Since that time, MUSE has had a good track record regarding attracting, retaining, and graduating minorities and women, particularly in view of national trends.

Much has been written concerning the need for attracting qualified minorities and women to engineering disciplines1-4. Still, national enrollment figures indicate that most colleges and universities struggle to meet this need, and minority and female students remain under-represented. At Mercer, however, past performance indicates a level of success in this area that exceeds the national averages by roughly 50% for both African- Americans and women.

Butler, A., & Hicks, P. (2006, June), Student Diversity At The Mercer University School Of Engineering: Retention And Graduation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--968

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