U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as the top university in Arkansas for social mobility. The ranking measures a university’s success in graduating economically disadvantaged students who are less likely to finish college.
“Facilitating social mobility is a fundamental value at UA Little Rock. It is inherent in our role and scope as a metropolitan university,” said UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale. “We also know that helping our students advance means more than providing excellent programs. We must also provide a success infrastructure that will keep them engaged, help them solve problems, and enable them to build relationships with professionals in their field that will assist in their transition to a career path after graduation.”
The social mobility indicator measures how well schools graduated students who received federal Pell Grants. Students receiving these grants typically come from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000. The social mobility ranking was computed by assessing Pell Grant graduation rates and Pell Grant graduate rate performance.
About 47% of undergraduate students from the fall 2020 semester are Pell Grant recipients, and 48% of undergraduates are first-generation students. UA Little Rock’s student body is the most diverse of any college or university in Arkansas. More than half of UA Little Rock students are over the age of traditional college students, with an overall average age of 27.
Dr. Erin Finzer, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, emphasized the many programs UA Little Rock has available to help underrepresented students as one of the reasons for the university’s high social mobility ranking.
Those programs include the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy, a year-round program open to students in the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) that provides academic support and mentoring for underrepresented students at the university.
Additionally, the Summer Bridge Academy is a three-week residential program that prepares incoming freshmen socially and academically for college-level work and accelerates their progress toward degree completion.
UA Little Rock promotes the African American Male Initiative, African American Female Initiative, Hispanic Latino Initiative, TRIO Talent Search, and McNair Scholars, which also support underrepresented students towards degree completion and graduate school enrollment.
“Our academic programs, service to students, and commitment to community engagement are determined by our mission to improve students’ lives through engaged teaching and learning,” Finzer said.