Committed to diversity? Where’s the evidence? – Special Report – Cover Story - Higher Education

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Committed to diversity? Where’s the evidence? – Special Report – Cover Story

by Karin Chenoweth


An often-expressed apprehension within the Black community is that
traditionally White institutions were never really committed to
integration, diversity, or affirmative action. The fear was that many
of these colleges undertook halfhearted minority student recruitment
and retention efforts and occasional Black faculty/staff appointments
while waiting for relief from conservative courts, legislatures and
voters.

Given the recent legal legislative and political environment, that relief seems to have arrived.

Colleges can achieve their goals if real commitment exists – as seen
by the fact that it is common for colleges to surpass multi-million
dollar fundraising campaigns.

The issue of whether there ever was real commitment for access and
equity, however, remains. And, of course, there are many opportunities
to demonstrate and prove it.

What follows is a small representative sample of actions and
activities that transcend rhetorical commitment. This sample is by no
means definitive or exhaustive, but it shows that there remains
individual and institutional commitment that has weathered the current
storm. We will all find out in the next few years if this commitment
will reverse, or move forward.

Engineering Diversity

African American and Hispanic students can be hard to find in
engineering and the hard sciences, particularly at the graduate level.
That is one reason why Georgia Institute of Technology stands out.

Georgia Tech confers more graduate degrees in engineering on African
American students than any other institution, and is second only to
Stanford in conferring master’s degrees on Hispanic students. Only
historically Black colleges confer more bachelor’s degrees in
engineering and computer sciences on African Americans than Georgia
Tech. (Those HBCUs are: North Carolina A&T, Florida A&M,
Prairie View A&M, Tuskegee and Southern Universities.)

And Georgia Tech has done a great deal to bring women into the
traditionally male field of engineering as well, conferring more
engineering degrees on women than any other institution.

Georgia Tech doesn’t boast a large number of programs aimed at
minority students, but the programs it has are very successful at
enlarging the traditional pool of applicants and in boosting student
performance.

For example, it has a three-two program that allows students to
combine three years of a liberal arts college program with a technical
degree. Students in the three-two program spend three years at another
state college or one of the historically Black Atlanta University
Center colleges – Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, or Morris Brown –
and finish up with two years at Georgia Tech. The Atlanta University
Center sends between 125 and 150 students a year to Georgia Tech, and
the dual degree students – as they are called – are supported with
special orientation and social programs. Georgia Tech. also recruits
graduate students from historically Black schools such as Prairie View
A&M University in Texas. Additionally, it recruits high school
students from around the state – watching such indicators as the PSAT,
the SAT, the National AChievement tests and grade point averages.

A few years ago, Georgia Tech revamped its Challenge program. What
was once a traditional remediation program for minority students aimed
at eliminating educational deficits is now a highly challenging
accelerated summer program. Within a couple of years, the performance
of Challenge students went up so high – more minority students achieved
4.0 averages than ever before – that some White students demanded entry
into the class as well.

As a result of its efforts to enlarge the pool of African American
and Hispanic students who apply and attend Georgia Tech, it is making a
bid to become one of the important routes for minorities on the way to
careers in engineering.

School: Georgia Institute of Technology, public Location: Atlanta,
Georgia Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,469 Men: 72% Women: 28% African
American: 10% Hispanic: 4% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific
Islander: 12% Cost: $7,245 (in state tuition plus room and board)

Framing Diversity in Global Terms

As the incoming president of Dillard University, Dr. Michael Lomax
has inherited an institution that has made impressive strides at
creating programs of diversity. That’s because the previous president,
Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, launched initiatives that have brought
worldwide recognition to the small, historically Black university.

The school’s National Center for Black-Jewish Relations – the only
one of its kind in the United States – has hosted eight annual national
conferences on Black-Jewish relations since the center was founded in
1989. The conferences have brought together community leaders and
scholars to assess strategies and initiatives to improve relations
between the two groups.

Dillard also is the only historically Black institution to have an
undergraduate Japanese Studies program. Each summer, dozens of Japanese
high school students come to Dillard for intensive English language
studies which draw heavily upon African American literature to enrich
the learning of the foreign students.

Lomax expects the student body of the historically Black institution
will grow more diverse as Dillard becomes better known for its academic
programs, particularly those relating to international affairs and the
arts and humanities.

He is particularly interested in attracting more international
students – specifically Blacks from the Caribbean, South America and
Africa. Currently, students from thirteen countries are enrolled at the
school, including a student from Japan, attracted there because of the
institution’s links with Japanese educational organizations.

“Up to now, Dillard has been known as a regional school. We’re now
committed to becoming a national institution,” Lomax says. “We want to
frame diversity in international terms. We’re viewing this in a global
context.”

School: Dillard University – private historically Black university
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,563 Men:
26% Women: 74% African American: 99% Hispanic: – Native American: –
Asian or Pacific Islander: – Cost: $11,450 (tuition plus room and board)

Diversity as Part of the Learning Experience

No newcomer to the idea of diversity, Hampton University, a private
historically Black institution, has a history of commitment dating back
to 1878. That was the year when Hampton pioneered American Indian
education. By the turn of the century, Hampton’s enrollment was 50
percent Native American and 50 percent African American.

Beginning about twenty years ago, Hampton made a conscious effort to
increase the overall enrollment, particularly the enrollment of White
students. Being private, Hampton is under no legal mandate to do so. It
is doing so, says its president, Dr. William Harvey, because diversity
is important.

“Diversity is important to the learning process of our students,”
Harvey says. “We feel that if people are going to have to work, live,
and socialize with each other, that it would be a good learning
experience for us to be advocates of diversity in our learning
experience.”

Overall enrollment went from about 2,700 students in 1977 to 5,700
now, with White student enrollment increasing from 1 percent to its
current level of 14 percent. White students have been attracted to the
new programs Hampton offers in engineering, pharmacy, and other
sciences.

In addition to the focus on White student enrollment, Hampton is
trying to lure other minorities to its campus as well as continuing its
tradition with Native American students. Aside from scholarships
designated for Native Americans, Hampton recently hosted several higher
education conferences involving Native American educators from North
Carolina, Florida, and several Western states.

Never one to shy away from aggressive leadership, Harvey decided to
upgrade his football program classification to NCAA’s Division I-AA two
years ago. Many questioned the ability of Hampton to compete at that
level. But, Hampton has won the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference
championship in football and will be one of sixteen colleges to enter
the national playoffs.

School: Hampton University – private, historically Black university
Location: Hampton, Virginia Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,711 Men: 39%
Women: 61% African American: 85% Hispanic: 1% Native American: 1% Asian
or Pacific Islander: 1% White: 14% Cost: $12,826 (tuition plus room and
board)

Nurturing Young Black Men

At a time when college and professional sports organizations have
come under fire for not promoting minorities into management positions,
James Madison University (JMU) has demonstrated leadership with the
rare achievement of having African Americans as head coaches of both
its football and basketball teams.

Coaches Alex Wood and Sherman Dillard represent an emerging wave of
African American coaching professionals who, after laboring many years
in the collegiate ranks as assistants, are now taking over major
college programs.

In 1995, Wood became head football coach of the Dukes. The program’s
fourth coach in twenty-five years, he succeeded Rip Scherer, who left
JMU to become the head coach at the University of Memphis.

Earlier this year, Dillard, a magna cure laude graduate of JMU, was
hired as the head coach of men’s basketball team. The
forty-two-year-old native of Bassett, Virginia, succeeded Lefty
Driesell, who had coached the team for nine seasons. Dillard worked for
Driesell as an assistant coach from 1979 to 1985, when Driesell was
head coach of the University of Maryland men’s basketball team.

JMU officials have taken great pride in the hirings of Wood and
Dillard. Dillard’s ascendancy to the helm of the JMU men’s basketball
program drew considerable praise from alumni and school officials
because of the coach’s history as a star JMU basketball player and
academic standout during the 1970s.

“A bright shining star has come home. Sherman represents everything
there is in the spirit of the ‘JMU Way,’ says Don Lemish, JMU athletic
director, about Dillard’s appointment.

While they point with pride to school athletic programs, JMU
officials say the school’s commitment to diversity extends beyond the
locker room.

One program of note is the James Madison University Academy for the
Academic Achievement and Development of African American Males. The
program is sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for
Virginia, and the Jessie Bell DuPont Fund. Attempting to prepare young
Black males for college, the three-week, summer-residency experience
provides an intensive academic and developmental learning session for
rising ninth and tenth-graders.

School: James Madison University, public Location: Harrisonburg,
Virginia Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,643 Men: 45% Women: 55% African
American: 5% Hispanic: 2% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific
Islander: 4% Cost: $8,770 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

Gateway to Diversity

In the wake of Proposition 209’s passage in California, Dr. Robert
A. Corrigan, president of San Francisco State University, declared that
the school’s “many recruitment and retention programs, [and our]
partnerships with K-12 and the community colleges will continue. And
they will continue because diversity makes us educationally stronger.”

Rather than retreat on its commitment to diversity, San Francisco
State University is moving ahead to continue the outreach initiatives
that have brought wide recognition to the school. On this campus of
27,000 students, dealing with issues of race and diversity is not
unusual because the school has a student population that this year may
reach 65 percent non-White. Among administrators, San Francisco State
has three African American academic deans. They are Dr. Phillip McGee,
dean of the college of ethnic studies, Dr. Keith Morrisson, dean of the
college of creative arts, and Dr. Arthur Wallace, dean of the college
of business.

At the heart of the school’s diversity commitment are recruitment
and retention programs that start with outreach efforts to public
schools in the San Francisco area and academic support programs that
target disadvantaged students during their enrollment at SFSU.

Examples include:

* Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), a retention program that
provides nearly 2,700 students at SFSU academic support – including
academic advising, career planning advice, and tutoring.

* Summer Bridge, an EOP-sponsored program that brings more than 100
students from ethnically diverse backgrounds to the SFSU campus for a
five-week residency period with academic classes. The students also
participate in workshops on topics, such as improving study skills and
self-esteem development.

* Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC), a National Institutes
of Health-funded initiative comprised of closely linked programs” known
as the “Unified Plan.” The programs, which will receive $2.2 million
over five years, promote scientific learning and achievement at every
level of a students’ education.

SFSU also assists elementary schools in introducing science to
kindergarten students. Science education initiatives are continued at
selected inner city elementary and middle schools.

At the high school level, students become eligible for SFSU’s Step
to College program, which allows academically qualified high school
seniors to take a three-unit course at SFSU.

Bridge to the Baccalaureate, another component of MARC, helps
minority honors students attending City College of San Francisco
transfer to SFSU to pursue a four-year degree in the health and
biomedical sciences. MARC also has programs that assist minority
students at SFSU to go on to graduate school, where they are expected
to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in biomedical sciences.

School: San Francisco State University, public Location: San
Francisco, California Undergraduate Enrollment: 21,049 Men: 42% Women:
58% African American: 8% Hispanic: 13% Native American: 1% Asian or
Pacific Islander: 26% Cost: $7,582 (in-state tuition plus room and
board)

Making Way for More Sisters

The selection of Dr. Ruth Simmons ‘as president of Smith College is
the institution’s most obvious – but not the only – sign of its
commitment to diversity. Simmons, who became Smith’s president in July
1995, is the first African American woman to lead one of the Seven
Sister colleges.

“Ruth Simmons brings…a unique blend of organizational and academic
experience, intellectual curiosity, energy and a strong commitment to
women’s education,” says Kate Webster, chair of the college’s board of
trustees and a member of the presidential search committee which
selected Simmons. “I am confident that her outstanding personal
characteristics and her exceptional professional experience will allow
her to effectively lead Smith College into the twenty-first century.”

And lead she has. Between 1994 and 1996, the number of African
Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans has increased 14 percent
(from 198 to 229) while the overall population of the college has grown
approximately 2 percent (from 2,631 to 2,670).

The numbers, however, only tell a small part of the story.

Perhaps the most far-reaching initiatives the institution has
undertaken are the partnerships Smith has formed with community
colleges around the country. The articulation agreements with Santa
Monica College in California (1993) and Miami-Dade Community College in
Florida (1997) are giving greater numbers of community college students
easier access to the Northampton, Massachusetts, institution so that
they may continue their education. Thus far, approximately a dozen
students have transferred from Santa Monica to Smith since the
agreement was signed.

The Community College Connections program, in which Smith has
participated for eight years, is a five-week summer program designed to
help students decide if a four-year college is right for them. Last
summer, eighteen students from Capital Community Technical College in
Connecticut, Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts,
Sitting Bull College in North Dakota, and Miami-Dade Community College
participated in the program. According to officials at Smith, 160
students have participated and 156 have completed the program since the
program began. Two-thirds of the participants have been women of color,
many with children. Approximately 80 percept of the program’s students
have gone on to four-year colleges. Twelve of them have enrolled at
Smith: six of those have graduated, and two have completed graduate
school.

In a speech in June at The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco,
Simmons explained the importance of diversity in a learning
environment: “Diversity is not only essential to how we educate our
students and our leaders; its absence is inimical to learning…. As
compelling as our need is to have our national interest protected by
students interacting with people of different perspectives and
backgrounds, it is even more important to our national interests that
education prepare an informed populace for a democratic society.”

School: Smith College, private Location: Northhampton, Massachusetts
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,670 Men: 0% Women: 100% African American:
4% Hispanic: 4% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific Islander: 11%
Cost: $27,458 (tuition plus room and board)

Looking for Individual Strengths

It might be in the heart of Prop. 200 country, but Stanford’s
commitment to diversity is part of a tradition that has emanated – and
continues to emanate – from the top.

Dr. Gerhard Casper, the university’s president, reminded faculty and
staff of Stanford’s tradition and commitment by emphasizing his own
commitment to equal opportunity. [n a speech to the faculty senate in
1995 – prior to the vote on Proposition 209 – he noted that when Leland
and Jane Stanford began the institution in the late nineteenth century,
the university sought to create opportunities for those who might
otherwise have been shut out. That concern spawned such things as the
implementation of the institution’s initial policy of not charging
tuition, and the admission of women when many other colleges would not
even have considered the possibility.

With the appointment of Dr. Condaleezza Rice as provost, Stanford
became one of the few top-tier institutions to have an African American
chief academic officer. Rice, who served in both the Reagan and Bush
White Houses as a top advisor on Soviet a(fairs, is keeping the
commitment to diversity alive. “We have tried hard to reach out to
students who we think are prepared and who can take advantage of the
Stanford education,” she says. “We have an advantage in that we are
relatively small, so our admissions process can look at the individual
student.”

Small or not, Stanford confers more graduate degrees in engineering
on Hispanics than any institution in the country. And the university
just began offering a major in comparative studies in race and
ethnicity.

“Every file at Stanford is read by three different people,” Rice
says. “We look at grades and test scores, but we also can take into
consideration a student’s intellectual vitality, whether they have been
involved in extra curricular activities, and we weigh heavily on
teacher recommendations… Our processes, more than certain programs,
are [what] support diversity in all its dimensions.

“Stanford has a lot of diversity, not just ethnic diversity,” she
adds. “We have students who are great athletes, musicians – and so this
process really allows us to pick a class that is diverse in all its
dimensions. And in California, to do this is really something because
the African American population is relatively small.”

School: Stanford University, private Location: Stanford, California
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,550 Men: 50% Women: 50% African American:
8% Hispanic: 11% Native American: 2% Asian or Pacific Islander: 24%
Cost: $27,958 (tuition plus room and board)

Stellar Past, Uncertain Future

The University of California system has been the focus of much of
the discussion around affirmative action, and rightly so. The system is
huge, prestigious, and selective. And so, the question of whether
African American and Hispanic students will have access is an important
one.

It is a question that UC Berkeley takes very seriously. It has been
a top-ranked school in terms of a diverse enrollment and graduation
rates for years.

Because it will no longer be able to use race and ethnicity as a
factor in admissions, spokesman for the university, Jesus Mena, says
he’s “not quite sure what the future really holds, but we know that
things are going to change demographically.”

What will remain the same, he says, is the university’s commitment
to diversity. “We had a formula,” Mena explains, “where we gave a value
to race, ethnicity, gender, rural versus urban…we can’t use that
formula anymore.”

What they will consider now in their admissions procedures are
factors such as public service, overcoming adversity, initiative, and
creativity.

In addition, he says, Berkeley will put greater efforts into their
pipeline programs with area school districts, including Berkeley
Unified, Oakland Unified, West Contra Costa Unified, and San Francisco
Unified.

“We asked the school districts to outline a pipeline beginning with
kindergarten so that we can intervene right at the beginning,” says
Mena. “We hope that in time, more and more of the under-represented
minorities will not just be ready, but be able to compete.”

School: University of California-Berkeley, public Location:
Berkeley, California Undergraduate Enrollment: 21,189 Men: 52% Women:
48% African American: 6% Hispanic: 13% Native American: 1% Asian or
Pacific Islander: 40% Cost: $10,666 (in-state tuition plus room and
board)

University of Maryland Bloodied But Unbowed

To increase the enrollment of African Americans, the University of
Maryland instituted the Benjamin Banneker Scholarship Program which, in
1995, brought thirty-six highly qualified African American students to
its flagship campus in College Park. But then the program ran up
against the Supreme Court, which ruled that it was discriminatory. Some
institutions might have said, “Well, we tried. There’s nothing more to
be done.” Maryland, however, renewed its efforts to diversify.

It combined the Banneker scholarship with another, the Key
scholarship, and without using race as a criterion has kept African
American participation at about 25 percent – forty-one students in
1996-97 and 26 this year.

Even more important, fifteen percent of the entering freshman class
was African American, representing a steady growth over the last five
years. Additionally, the university has steadily been one of the top
producers of African American and Hispanic baccalaureate and graduate
degrees. Last year, 12.9 percent of the students in Maryland’s highly
rated honors program were African American, compared to 7.4 percent in
1990-91.

The university has also done some careful recruiting of faculty. It
is now home to a host of African American public policy scholars,
including Dr. Linda Williams, Dr. Ron Walters, and Dr. Walter Broadnax.
Overall, twenty-five percent of the faculty, administrators and staff
are members of minority groups.

Some careful work has been done to make the huge factory-like campus
more hospitable to diversity. The School of Journalism has provided a
home for the National Association of Black Journalists, and the new
Nyumburu Cultural Center reflects West African design principles.

Additionally, the DiversityWeb, which is also housed on the
university’s campus, was recently praised by President Bill Clinton for
helping promote diversity in higher education.

School: University of Maryland Location: College Park, Md.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 23,758 Men: 52% Women: 48% African American:
14% Hispanic: 5% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific Islander: 14%
Cost: $9,511 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

An Agenda and a Mandate Create Momentum in Michigan

Following the tradition begun in 1970 when Dr. Clifford Wharton was
named as president of Michigan State University, Michigan’s public
higher education system is setting high standards for leadership.

For example, the University of Michigan at Dearborn and at Flint are
both led by African Americans – Dr. James C. Renick and Dr. Charlie
Nelms – some of the state’s community colleges are led by minority
presidents and this month Wayne State University in Detroit is swearing
in Dr. Irvin Reid as its ninth president, the first African American to
lead the university.

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the flagship school of the
Michigan higher education system, has drawn recognition from the
Advisory Board to the President’s Initiative on Race for its “Program
on Intergroup Relations, Conflict and Community.” The program, which
educates students in classes, dialogue sessions, workshops and training
programs, began in 1988 and is open to all students in the university.
As a result of the program, eighteen sundergraduate courses have been
launched that address the theory and practice of intergroup relations.

In early November, the Advisory Board to the President’s Initiative
on Race cited the University of Michigan’s intergroup relations program
as one of fourteen “Promising Practices” by organizations and
institutions that are “designed to improve race relations and build one
America.” The citation is included in the race initiative’s One America
Web site, which is designed to educate people about improving race
relations.

In 1987, the University of Michigan implemented the Michigan
Mandate, a long-range strategic plan for “linking academic excellence
and social diversity” at the school. Ten years later, the plan has
given rise to a wide range of programs and initiatives that have
boosted the University of Michigan’s record on diversity.

In 1994, the university launched the Michigan Agenda for Women, a
companion initiative to the Michigan Mandate designed to make women
students, faculty, and staff fully representative in the university.

Michigan State University has actively been promoting diversity on
its campus by committing a significant number of professionals and
administrators to the task. The Provost/Vice-President for Academic
Affairs, the Vice-President for Finance and Operations, and the
Vice-President Student Affairs and Services share responsibility for
implementing diversity and multi-cultural programs.

Michigan schools are also taking advantage of the Martin Luther
King, Jr.-Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Visiting Professors Program. The
initiative, which is partially funded by the state of Michigan, brings
outstanding scholars to Michigan campuses for short stays. The program
is designed to increase the numbers of under-represented instructors in
the classroom, and encourages them to serve as role models for students.

School: University of Michigan Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Undergraduate Enrollment: 23,590 Men: 50% Women: 50% African American:
9% Hispanic: 5% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific Islander: 12%
Cost: $11,025 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

School: Michigan State University Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Undergraduate Enrollment: 32, 318 Men: 48% Women: 52% African American:
8% Hispanic: 2% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific Islander: 4% Cost:
$8,627 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

School: Wayne State University Location: Detroit, Michigan
Undergraduate Enrollment: 18,200 Men: 40% Women: 60% African American:
28% Hispanic: 2% Native American: 1% Asian or Pacific Islander: 5%
Cost: $7,279 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

University of Oklahoma-Norman in the Game

The state of Oklahoma is home to a significant number of the
nation’s Native Americans. So it should come naturally that the
University of Oklahoma-Norman, the state’s flagship university, is
highly regarded among the state’s Native American citizens.

Although Native Americans comprise just 6.7 percent of the school’s
overall population, the Oklahoma Indian Times magazine recently named
the University of Oklahoma (OU) the “Best Place to Go to College,”
recognizing the school’s recruitment and retention efforts that have
resulted in Native Americans being the fastest growing group in OU’s
student body.

Among its academic inducements, OU bestows a bachelor’s degree in
Native American studies – an interdisciplinary offering designed to
provide students with a historical and contemporary understanding of
Native American culture and its development in the United States. In
early December, OU will host “The Forum on American Indian Higher
Education” – a national conference that will educate college
administrators on how to create a supportive and academic environment,
and devise effective recruitment strategies for Native American
students.

Perhaps the most visible sign of diversity at OU is Kelvin Sampson,
the school’s head basketball coach. Sampson, reportedly the only Native
American’ Division I men’s basketball coach in the nation, is credited
with leading a resurgence in Sooner basketball since his appointment in
1994. He has guided the Sooners to consecutive trips to the NCAA
national tournament in 1994-95 and 1995-96. A native of Laurinburg,
N.C., Sampson is a full-blooded Lumbee Indian and a graduate of
Pembroke State University in North Carolina.

African Americans have achieved high-profile positions at OU. For
example, Dr. Edward J. Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador, is the
interim executive director of the International Programs Center. Among
the school’s administrators is Dr. George Henderson, the dean of the
College of Liberal Studies. A faculty member since 1967, Henderson is
responsible for developing OU’s liberal studies and human relations
programs, according to officials.

John Blake, an African American graduate of OU, became head football
coach of the Sooners on the last day of 1995. At thirty-five, Blake is
one of the nation’s youngest head football coaches at a Division I
school. As a college player, he was a highly touted defensive standout
under former OU head coach Barry Switzer.

School: University of Oklahoma – Norman Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Undergraduate Enrollment: 15,732 Men: 55% Women: 45% African American:
7% Hispanic: 3% Native American: 7% Asian or Pacific Islander: 5% Cost:
$6,030 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

Reaching Out for Black Men

In the summer of 1992, Dr. Dorothy Lord, president of Coastal
Georgia Community College attended two local high school graduation
ceremonies.

As she watched students receive their diplomas, it hit her that something, or rather someone, was missing: young Black men.

“I was struck by the small numbers of Black men crossing the stage,”
she recalls, “and as the new president of our college, I became really
concerned when I went back and looked at our own statistics and the
disparities.

After extensive talks with faculty members and leaders in the
communities along this state’s sea island coast, the Coastal Georgia
Minority Outreach Program, a college-community partnership aimed at
young Black males, was born. Money came in from neighbors, local
businesses, foundations and community organizations.

The annual shoestring budget of $35,000 has allowed the outreach
program to target dozens of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys
living in Brunswick and its neighboring counties along the southeast
Georgia coast. In a short time and with little money, it has left a
lasting impact on the children and adults alike. The first group of
participants is expected to graduate next spring.

Tutors and teachers team up with youngsters for six weeks during the
summer and on Saturdays throughout the academic school year. And
support comes not only from the college, but from local teachers,
counselors, businessmen and civic leaders as well.

One group, The 14 Black Men of Glynn Inc., which numbers more than
thirty men with experience in one-on-one mentoring and tutoring,
stepped up to lend its help.

“At the outset, I saw this as a way to intervene in the problem of
children dropping out of school,” says retired Army Col. Thomas W.
Fuller, a member of the men’s organization.

“One of the primary causes of kids dropping out has to do with the
fact that they are often ill-prepared to go from one grade to the next.
“The further they move along in grades, the further they fall behind.
This program gives them the intensive training that is needed to get a
better handle on the things they need,” Fuller says. “What they needed
was intervention.”

School: Coastal Georgia Community College Location: Brunswick,
Georgia Enrollment: 1,920 Men: 34.6 percent Women: 65.4 percent African
American: 21.1 percent Hispanic: 1.8 percent Multi-racial: .5 percent
Asian or Pacific Islander: .7 percent Cost: $1,095 a year in-state;
$3,765 out-of-state

Retention Pacesetter University of Virginia

Before the early 1960s, the University of Virginia (UVa) followed
strict segregationist policies and excluded Blacks from seeking and
gaining admission to the Charlottesville, Virginia institution.

In less than four decades, UVa has evolved from an exclusionary,
segregated institution to one that graduates Blacks at the highest rate
of any public university or college in the country.

UVa recently posted an 83.1 percent six-year graduation rate among
Black undergraduates who entered UVA in 1990, and a 91.5 percent
six-year graduation rate among Black undergraduates who entered the
school in 1991, according to university officials.

Dr. Rick Turner, dean of the university’s Office of African American
Affairs, has attributed UVa’s success in graduating Black
undergraduates to retention efforts that create an academically and
socially supportive environment for Black students.

“One of the reasons that the University of Virginia does well in
retaining and graduating African American students is that we shower
them with love,” Turner says.

Since 1989, the school has paired each incoming Black freshmen with
a Black upperclassmen who serves as a student mentor. Outreach efforts
also include faculty mentors and a parents’ advisory association. From
the time a student is admitted to long after he or she is enrolled, the
student receives regular correspondence from the university or Black
upperclassmen – even birthday cards.

Turner says Black faculty and administrators take very seriously
their role in helping Black students adjust and succeed at the
university.

UVa is credited with not only making Black students feel
comfortable. The school has also made efforts to develop relationships
with the families of Black students. According to university officials,
the Office of Admissions invites hundreds of prospective students and
families to the campus twice during the admissions process – once when
students are deciding where to apply, and again after they are accepted.

Last year, the Parents Advisory Association for African American
Students at the University of Virginia presented a $4,000 check to UVa
President John Casteen for the school’s capital campaign. The group’s
donation represented a gesture of appreciation for the university’s
recruitment and retention efforts. Turner says the group will be
presenting President Casteen another check by the end of the year.

School: University of Virginia Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Undergraduate Enrollment: 12,040 Men: 47 Women: 53 African American:
11% Hispanic: 2% Native American: – Asian or Pacific Islander: 10%
Cost: $8,610 (in-state tuition plus room and board)

In Conclusion

The preceding pages represent a few of the efforts by colleges and
universities to ensure that higher education is available to all
students. But the above examples only scratch the surface. Many others
exist. Even a short list includes such examples as:

Middle Tennessee State University which, with forty-two African
American faculty members, a multimillion dollar building program, and a
rapid enrollment growth is opening its doors to many more students –
both White and Black. Such rapid growth is a testament to the leadship
of the institution’s president, Dr. James E. Walker, one of a small but
growing number of African American presidents of traditionally White,
Southern institutions. That small band of educational leaders may very
well help change the face of higher education in the South.

Marshall University, a predominantly White university in West
Virginia, which regularly brings African American high school students
to the campus both to pique their interest and motivate them to enroll.
But officials there know that just enrolling more African American and
Hispanic students isn’t enough. They also have in the works a
substantive program they are calling the Harmony Institute, which will
help students work together and feel comfortable together. Marshall’s
president, Dr. J. Wade Gilley, and the institute’s director, Betty
Cleckley, are working to get beyond numerical diversity.

Temple University, in Philadelphia, which has consistently posted
top honors for graduating African Americans at both an undergraduate
and graduate level. It boasts the nation’s first – and largest – Ph.D.
program in African American studies. And its commitment to diversity
can also be seen by the fact that until the recent resignation of
football coach Ron Dickerson, its basketball – coached by John Chaney –
and football programs have been led by African Americans. Many more
examples exist. In most of them, the work of the institution have been
led by one person or a small group of people who have worked creatively
to widen the doors of higher education. They have put into practice
their beliefs that higher education should not be available only to an
elite few, but to everyone.

Space does not allow us to include all of the noteworthy efforts.
But by sharing these examples, we hope to demonstrate that there is a
growing body of evidence that commitment to diversity persists.

Editor’s note: The information in the boxes was drawn from Peterson’s Guide to Four-Year Colleges, 1998.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com

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