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National higher education leader: ‘we need more schools like Lyon’

A nationally acclaimed higher education advocate recently applauded Lyon College for its high graduation placement rates among low-income and first-generation students.

“Lyon shows that institutions that tackle the job of serving low-income and first-generation students can graduate substantial numbers of students and place them in jobs and graduate school,” said Terry W. Hartle, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs of the American Council on Education (ACE). 

ACE is the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, with a diverse membership of more than 1,700 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in America and abroad. ACE is the only major higher education association to represent all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions: two-year and four-year, public and private.

In fall 2018, 54 percent of Lyon’s students were Pell Grant recipients, while 43 percent were first-generation.

“These individuals often are woefully underprepared for the academic rigors of postsecondary education,” Hartle said, “and they often have personal and family situations that are unimaginable to middle-income and upper-income families.” 

Lyon reported a six-year graduation rate of 57 percent for its first-time full-time students in 2019. 

Meanwhile, 99 percent of Lyon’s 2018 graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school, which is the highest rate reported by a college in Arkansas. Lyon’s percentage is also 18 points higher than the national average and 22 points higher than the state average. 

The 2019 graduation placement rates will be available later this fall.

“I have said I am determined for Lyon to do much more than survive, and the 99 percent average shows that our graduates do much more than survive – they thrive,” said Lyon President Dr. W. Joseph King. 

“A liberal arts education holistically prepares our students for whatever they endeavor after graduation.”

Hartle commended Lyon for focusing “on one of the most difficult tasks in postsecondary education.”

“Lyon has a clear mission and pursues it with a single-minded focus. We need more schools like Lyon.”