TOPEKA (KSNT) – Washburn University is celebrating a marked increase in graduation rates.

WU’s director of public relations, Lori Hutchinson, announced on Tuesday that the university has seen an increase in graduation rates despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university’s pandemic-era graduation rate moved up by 6.3% compared to the rate in 2018, according to Hutchinson.

“During the pandemic, Washburn University faculty and staff remained committed to helping students graduate on time, so we are pleased to see our efforts recognized on the national level,” said Dr. Alan Bearman, interim executive director of enrollment management and dean of the Center for Student Success and Retention at Washburn University.

A study by the Chronicle of Higher Education on data from the U.S. Department of Education on more than 1,300 public and private four-year institutions found that six-year graduation rates for 2020 and 2021 were 1.26% higher, on average, than they were in 2018-2019. This includes WU in a small group of institutions that were more than five percentage points above the national average.

“Being one of only two Kansas institutions to receive recognition from The Chronicle for growing our retention rates during the pandemic is something that makes every Washburn University employee proud because they all worked so hard to stay focused on student success during the difficulty of the pandemic,” Bearman said.

WU was recently ranked as one of the top regional universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News and World Report. The ranking comes from survey results that take into account class size, financial aid given, graduation rates and peer opinion.