they agree to work 10 to 12 hours weekly in work-study. We meet the rest of their needs through a combination of federal, state, university, and other privately funded grants and scholarships. We had sound educational reasons for creating this program. And it fit our core values as a university—primarily that access to higher education is the key to opportunity. We were concerned that North Carolina’s brightest high school students from low-income families believed they couldn’t afford to come to Carolina. We wanted to send the message that college is possible for high-ability, low-income students from any community or any background, who have the grades and motivation. Part of our interest in advancing this program was the dramatic demographic shift in North Carolina. The state was experiencing rapid population growth—and increasing diversity. The Hispanic population was skyrocketing. At the time, our median family income was dropping, and the poverty rate ranked 14th in the country. The response to this program, conceived by our Director of Scholarships and Student Aid Shirley Ort, championed by then-Chancellor Moeser, has been very strong. More than 80 other campuses, public and private—likely on some of the same campuses represented in this room—have adopted their own versions of the covenant as part of the massive overall shift we’ve seen in financial aid practices. Last May, the first class of Carolina Covenant Scholars graduated. Currently, about 1,500 of these covenant students are studying at the university since the program’s inception nearly 1,800 undergraduates have benefited. Students of color have represented about 60 percent of all Carolina Covenant Scholars and 60 percent were first-generation college students. We are still carefully studying and analyzing the experiences our Covenant Scholars are having in Chapel Hill. Preliminary data show a very high retention rate—in the 90 percent range—and we are encouraged by that finding. The program is not solely academic. An added strength of the program is a mentoring component. Faculty and staff have been enthusiastic in volunteering to participate—another indication of the campus-wide support and enthusiasm for this program. It has also been the focus of some fund- raising efforts, and it has been highlighted by our basketball coach, Roy Williams, in a TV public service announcement airing during national and regional broadcasts of football and basketball games. That TV spot has helped RLI 263 6 APRIL 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC Diversity in Research Universities ( C O N T I N U E D )
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