Summit focuses on success of men of color in higher ed


The National Center for Institutional Diversity convened a national summit Thursday titled “Ensuring Success for Men of Color:  Leveraging Evidence to Drive Better Policy, Practice, and Effective Philanthropic Investment.”

“The success of men of color in higher education is a profoundly important issue,” said NCID Director John Burkhardt. “They constitute the smallest proportionally represented demographic among post-secondary students in the U.S.  Their higher education participation has remained stagnant since the 1970s. 

“Good intentions and half measures are not enough,” said Burkhardt, who collaborated to plan the summit with Frank Harris III, co-director of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative at San Diego State University, and Victor B. Sáenz, executive director of the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color at the University of Texas at Austin.

Summit guest experts included Law School alumnus Broderick Johnson, assistant to the president and cabinet secretary, and chair of the task force charged with carrying forward the Obama administration’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. 

“The scholarly perspective is very helpful in better informing our work,” Johnson said. “I am proud my alma mater is helping us take this important step forward.”

In the context of My Brother’s Keeper, summit participants — scholars, practitioners, policy makers and foundation representatives — re-examined the public discourse surrounding young men of color. They explored ways to better align research, policy and practice, to identify and bolster the impact of current and emerging initiatives.

 “An academic might have a great idea, a foundation might have a great intention, but we need to come together,” said Bryant Marks, executive director of the Morehouse Research Institute at Morehouse College. Marks received a master’s degree and doctorate from U-M.

“We are trying to bring some critical awareness. We are ultimately focused on action,” said Sáenz.

When the conversation moved to student retention, James Moore III, director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male at The Ohio State University, said, “I don’t like the word ‘retention.’  Who wants to be retained? I like success.”

In addition to Johnson, Harris, Moore and Sáenz, featured presenters included Tyrone Howard, director of the Black Male Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Jerlando Jackson, director and chief research scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

U-M students, faculty and staff convened the evening before for a pre-summit discussion of related issues and ways they are experienced at U-M. In addition to NCID, the preview event was co-sponsored by the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives and the Center for Educational Outreach.

“It is an honor for the University of Michigan to provide a venue for critical discussion,” Burkhardt said.


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