Extraordinary Gentlemen: LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative
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Pursuing a degree in mass communication.
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Pursuing a degree in pre-education.
Pursuing a degree in pre-business administration.
Little Rock, Ark.
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Pursuing a degree in management.
Pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
Pursuing a degree in
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pre-arts and sciences.
New Iberia, La.
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According to the 2006 report "Black Male Students at Public Flagship Universities in the U.S.: Status, Trends and Implications for Policy and Practice," black male college students are the least represented subgroup of students on college campuses; black males – 74.3 percent – are enrolled in college at the lowest rates when compared to white males - 86.4 percent - and black females - 80.2 percent - between the ages of 18-24; and black males comprise only 3.2 percent of the total student population at LSU, compared to 17.8 percent of the total population of Louisiana.
In an effort to combat these disheartening statistics, LSU is answering the national call to provide greater support to black male college students through the Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI. The university has established a student mentoring and leadership development program, formed a strategic planning committee and is consulting with national experts to support and bring greater awareness to the needs of black male student development.
Understanding Black Male Students
LSU has invited Michael Cuyjet, a leading scholar in black college male research and editor of "African-American Males in College," to consult with university administrators and meet with students. The Office of Multicultural Affairs' Genesis Mentoring & Tutoring Program and First Year Experience, or FYE, are sponsoring a lecture by Cuyjet on Tuesday, March 16, at the African-American Cultural Center at 5 p.m.
"Although our state and institutions of higher education across the nation are faced with economical challenges, LSU remains on course in our efforts to promote equity and diversity," said Marco Barker, assistant to the vice provost and director of educational equity for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. "BMLI represents a step in the right direction in the university's efforts to be responsive to our state's racial dynamic, to be a responsible, civic-minded institution engaged in outreach, and to be a top-tier university that develops programs and initiatives aimed at promoting academic exploration and developing successful graduates."
According to Cuyjet, black male students' college experiences differ from other student subgroups, i.e., white males. Institutional type - whether historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, or predominantly white institutions, or PWIs - can have an influence on the level of student satisfaction and success. Cuyjet notes that PWI students face unique challenges in responding to and supporting black male students who face issues of isolation, stereotyping and micro-aggression that may exist within these majority institutions.
Cuyjet's research on the study of black male students has guided the initial efforts to formulate the BMLI 2020 Strategic Plan. These research findings can assist the university in rethinking how administrators, faculty and staff can assist in the goal of promoting enrollment, retention and graduation.
Black Male Leadership Initiative Cohort Program
As part of the Black Male Leadership Initiative, the BMLI Cohort Program offers support through targeted programs and workshops in three critical areas - academics, leadership development and citizenship. The BMLI Cohort Program experience focuses on the development of the whole student and encourages growth in the areas that are most critical for college students.
"The LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative is an essential and vital enterprise that focuses on the success of black men at LSU, thus impacting the diversity agenda in a meaningful way," said Katrice Albert, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. "This important initiative will no doubt serve as a catalyst to empower these 'men of merit' to reach their fullest potential during their years at LSU and beyond."
One key aspect of the BMLI Cohort Program is to connect students with existing services and opportunities on campus so they feel connected to campus life and continue being vested in the university. The BMLI Cohort Program also promotes growth by providing individualized mentoring opportunities to its program participants. With the aid of black male faculty and administrative mentors, students gain additional insight into the cultural and academic nuances of the university that may assist them in navigating their freshman and sophomore years.
"The BMLI is an exciting opportunity for our campus," said Stacia Haynie, vice provost for Academic Affairs. "The faculty-student interaction at the core of this program is critical to both the recruitment and the retention of great students. In addition, this program strengthens the critical linkages necessary to unite our diverse campus."
Other BMLI Cohort opportunities include tutoring and personal development workshops that prepare students for life during and after college. The program has been met with great response and support. The students have already been engaged in workshops on academic preparedness and dealing with stress offered through the Center for Academic Success and Wellness Education and, most recently, attended the Southeastern Leadership Conference at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. Future activities scheduled for the group include lunch with a national scholar on black male college development, career and leadership development workshops, a community service project, a social and a student retreat.
"LSU's Black Male Leadership Initiative is paramount in assisting students to reach their fullest potential at LSU, while providing an opportunity for LSU to be one of the leaders in the country around black male student recruitment and retention," said Chaunda Allen, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. "The BMLI continues to highlight our sincere interest in making sure that all students at LSU find the nurturing and support they need to be successful and productive students."
The 2010 BMLI Cohort Leaders include Brian Carrington, a sophomore from Birmingham, Ala., pursuing a degree in chemical engineering; Dexlon Cooksey, a freshman from Lafayette pursuing a degree in mass communication; Eric Couto, a freshman from New Orleans pursuing a degree in political science; Brylon Crier, a freshman from Albany pursuing a degree in finance; Herbert Dennis, a sophomore from Vacherie pursuing a degree in pre-education; Da'John Dickerson, a sophomore from Kentwood pursuing a degree in pre-business administration; Joseph Hollins, a freshman from Baton Rouge pursuing a degree in construction management; Joshua Hollins, a freshman from Baton Rouge pursuing a degree in mass communication; Taylor James-Lightner a sophomore from Little Rock, Ark., pursuing a degree in chemical engineering; A'Trey-U Jones, a freshman from Tickfaw pursuing a degree in management; Jared Roussel, a sophomore from South Vacherie pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering; Phillip Thomas, a sophomore from Port Allen pursuing a degree in electrical engineering; Jordan Wade, a sophomore from Rayne pursing a degree in pre-arts and sciences; John White, a sophomore from Chicago pursuing a degree in industrial engineering; Johnny Williams Jr., a sophomore from New Iberia pursuing a degree in electrical engineering; and Isaiah Woodson, a freshman from Richmond, Va., pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.
Black Male Leadership Initiative 2020 Strategic Plan
As LSU embarks on establishing the Flagship Agenda 2020, the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach and its Office of Multicultural Affairs are working with campus partners to address a population that has historically been undeserved but possess a great deal of academic and leadership potential. The working group is drafting a Black Male Leadership Initiative 2020 plan that articulates LSU's challenges and successes in recruiting, retaining, graduating and reconnecting with black male students. The working group intends to transition the perspective of black male development from a deficit model to an opportunistic model.
The working group includes Allen; Barker; Brian Bourke, assistant professor for Educational, Theory, Policy and Practice; Derek Cowherd, associate director of the LSU Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes; Randy Fontenot, program coordinator for FYE; Kenneth Miles, executive director of the LSU Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes; Roland Mitchell, assistant professor for Educational, Theory, Policy and Practice; Darrell Ray, assistant vice chancellor for Student Life responsible for FYE; and Jerry Whitmore Jr., assistant director of Greek Life. Graduate Assistants for the BMLI Project include Jared Avery of EDCO and Desmond Robinson of FYE.
"The BMLI is providing a deeper examination into the experience of a section of the LSU student body," said Ray. "Data obtained from the initiative can guide decisions on services and outreach efforts, while enhancing the quality of the student experience at LSU. Hopefully this model can be replicated in multiple areas to assist the university in attracting, retaining and graduating not just more African American males, but more students in general."
BMLI is also working closely with the Louisiana Council on the Status of Black Men and Boys, which is directed under the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The council is charged with exploring strategies to alleviate the underlying social issues affecting black males in the state of Louisiana and is led by Calvin Mackie. The council and the LSU Office for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach will be collaborating on strategies and solutions.
The BMLI Cohort Program is coordinated through the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, with support from the Career Services' IBM Diversity Grant. For more information regarding the Black Male Leadership Initiative 2020 or the BMLI Cohort Program, please contact Allen or Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa Foley | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations