UMR Strives to Position Underrepresented Populations for Success

September 4, 2018
CORE students with canoes
UMR Health CORE Students


American higher education is admitting underrepresented students in record numbers, but providing increased access has not changed the fact that these students generally continue to struggle. According to InsideHigherEd, nationally, only 54.8% of underrepresented students who go to college graduate in six years. The University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) has always prided itself in its diverse student body. This fall, as another school year gets underway, the University is proud to welcome another class with a large cohort of underrepresented students. And thanks to UMR’s innovative culture, these young scholars are in a strong position to achieve academic success.

UMR is different from other colleges and universities, having a single focus in providing degrees in health care. At this innovative campus, students who are traditionally in underrepresented populations in higher education (students of color, first-year generation students, Pell Grant eligible students) are not only being retained, but are also graduating in four years at rates above national numbers. This year’s incoming class includes 35.7% students of color.

Faculty and staff build relationships with students, connecting them to resources that contribute to student success during their time at UMR. Each student is paired with a success coach and given access to learning cohorts, Living Learning Communities, JustAsk centers where faculty are readily available, bridge programs and first year student research teams.

More than 90% of UMR graduates complete their education and earn their degrees in four years or less, reducing the debt that they incur compared to other universities. Because of the specialized degrees offered at UMR, alumni graduate into a field where they are able to find jobs quickly, fulfilling a workforce shortage. When students who are involved in UMR’s Bachelor of Science in Health Professions program, an educational collaboration with Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences graduate, 100% of them are employed in their field post graduation. Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree continue their studies in medicine, mental health, public health, law and research.

UMR is constantly being driven to discover new, innovative ways to serve its students. One of the ways this is accomplished is through faculty’s primary research being conducted on student learning, regardless of the disciplines they teach. The results of this research is seen in UMR’s unique flipped classrooms, active classroom environment (rather than traditional lecture-based classes), consistent group work, and most notably, the intersection between various subjects. Faculty in UMR’s Center for Learning Innovation offer an integrated curriculum, enabling students to develop critical thinking skills, empowering them to be exceptional learners whose careers address real life and real world problems in the health care arena.

As the workforce demand in the health care industry increases, as well as the diversity among graduating high school seniors, not only in Minnesota, but also around the country and world, UMR is poised to welcome underrepresented students to its purpose-driven campus. UMR’s evidence-based, relationship-driven practices are propelling the University to inspire transformation in higher education through innovations that empower graduates to solve the grand health challenges of the 21st century.