CHSE School of Education Hosts Bi-Annual Summit on African American Male Educational Success

African American Men Graduate Rate10/09/14

The School of Education (SOE), within the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE), hosted its Bi-Annual Summit on African American Male Educational Success on Thursday, September 8, 2014 highlighting the Higher Education program at LSU which graduates five times the national average of African American male doctoral students.

Under the direction of SOE Associate Director Dr. Roland Mitchell, 166 attendees witnessed the event highlighting the myriad of complex socio-economic and educational issues that African-American males face within today’s upper-level educational system. It also highlighted successful policies, practices, and collective efforts between schools and communities for developing structures that promote positive educational outcomes for African American boys and men.

Discussion panels featuring powerhouse educational policy makers, administrators and scholars including LSU Chancellor & President Dr. F. King Alexander, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Stuart Bell, and LSU Vice Provost for Diversity Dr. Dereck Rovaris, Sr., CHSE Dean Damon Andrew, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education for Rutgers University Dr. Fred Bonner, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago Dr. David Stovall and Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges & Universities Dr. Ivory Toldson along with K-12 and post-secondary teachers and students, spoken word artists, and invested community members, yielded valuable insight into how to combat structural issues that often hinder African American males from aspiring to and achieving higher level education.

As a national leader in this conversation, Dr. Mitchell designed the event to bring educators face-to-face with African American male students and scholar-leaders in the broader elementary and post-secondary education community, as a means to gain insight about schooling from African American men who have thrived in ways that are pervasively framed as impossible in 21st-century American classrooms.

“The Summit highlights the ability of our college to address national issues associated with, not only enrolling a more diverse student body, but also ensuring their success once they arrive on campuses where they have historically been absent,” Dr. Mitchell said. “Further, the diversification of our program areas has not come at the expense of standards, as evidenced by both our high graduation rate and the ranks of our African American male students who have gone on to secure prestigious faculty and administrative appointments.”

The summit also featured panels, discussions, breakout sessions, book signings by leading academics, and poetry performances by local high school students. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from and engage in discussions with the LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative Fellows, LSU faculty and staff, and African American men who are currently enrolled in the School of Education’s Higher Education and Curriculum Studies programs.

Guest speakers provided insight on regional and national educational policies and practices. Local students from McKinley and Catholic High Schools in Baton Rouge snapped their fingers in agreement to many of the points made by speakers and panelists. Dr. Bonner’s interactive keynote asked participants to consider what images of success and talent looked like by displaying photos of various African American male rappers and entertainers, athletes and working professionals. Listeners then partnered up to discuss before relaying their opinions to the crowd.

“All the knowledge that those on the panel and my fellow students have been able to offer each other has been great,” said Demarcus Shepherd, a junior at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. “Everyone is very involved and I really think that is such a great thing. I’ve really benefited from learning about what college has to offer. I’m really interested in everything that the panelists had to say and I’m excited to reach out to them and try to gain more knowledge about what college offers aside from strictly education.”

In addition, African American students who attended from various universities throughout the state and country were able to see potential for themselves reflected in the image of successful and well-educated African American scholars.

“This conference inspired me to take higher education extremely seriously,” said attendee Dwayne Grant, a graduate student from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. “I was truly impressed with so many positive examples of educational scholars that looked like me. There is a great need for this message to be shared.” 

“Events like the Summit continue to affirm for me that it is necessary to continue providing support for African American male students. Oftentimes African American male students are not correlated with successful outcomes,” echoed Dr. Chaunda Allen, assistant to the Vice Provost for Diversity at LSU. “The proactive approach to achieving success for this critical population highlights that the CHSE can be a state, regional, and national leader in the conversation. We need even more partners both at LSU in the community to engage in preparing students from kindergarten all the way to the doctorate to be successful. The Summit is a necessary and vital piece in not only bringing the current success stories to the forefront but also paving the way for even more success stories in the future.”  

The event was made possible by partnerships with the LSU Curriculum Theory Project, LSU CHSE Dean’s Circle, LSU Dining, LSU Women’s Center, LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, LSU Black Faculty & Staff Caucus, 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge, and Wordplay.

Addressing the 13 Higher Education graduates invited to speak on a panel about their experiences as students in the College of Human Sciences and Education at LSU, Dr. Mitchell noted the lack of sufficient space to accommodate them all at the front of the room, remarking, “There really isn’t enough space for all the men that are here on this panel. So recognize it. This is powerful. It tells you something about what’s happening in the school of education, what’s happening in the College of Human Sciences and Education, and what’s happening at LSU.”

About SOE
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction and in Educational Leadership, Research, and Counseling. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues.

About CHSE
The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. Formed in 2012, CHSE brings together programs and capitalizes on individual strengths to create a dynamic new college that addresses the socially significant issues we face as a state and nation. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.