Ohio University in Athens has established the African American Male Initiative on campus. The goal of the program is to increase the number of Black men who enroll and graduate from the university.
The African American Male Initiative aims to connect its more than 40 students to academic support services on campus. It also is working in tandem with student organizations, student affairs, and the Athens community to establish a welcoming environment that young Black males can call home.
Jamie Patton, assistant dean of students, says that “it is important that these students see someone who looks like them early on, both inside and outside of the classroom, to aid in their sense of belonging.”
Chris Caldwell, co-chair of the African American Male Initiative, adds that “coming into a predominantly white university is tough for all students of color, and specifically for Black males, for two reasons. All students have to adjust to the academic rigor and the burden of too much time, but Black males also have to adapt to cultural differences in their residence halls and in their classrooms.”
Caldwell notes that “nationwide, the African American male community is the largest college-going population with the lowest graduation rate. We want to turn that around and Ohio University wants to develop a model that other institutions can follow to help reverse this trend.”
The African American Male Initiative is funded by a two-year grant from the Konneker Fund for Learning and Discovery.