At a time when such great emphasis is being placed on college completion, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas recognizes that the graduation and retention rates of minority males are at a staggering decline. To address the issues that contribute to the decline in academic success for this underrepresented community, PCCUA is in the process of creating Men Enrolling to Advance on the Helena-West Helena campus designed to provide peer support and bonding as well as opportunities for mentoring by college faculty and staff.
In recent years, colleges and universities have been given a challenge – increase the proportion of American adults with high-quality degrees and credentials. President Obama and Gov. Mike Beebe have joined the ranks of organizations such as the Lumina Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The College Board, and others in calling for efforts to improve rates of postsecondary education attainment in the U.S.
This call to action has led to an undeniable reality for colleges and universities – getting more people to enroll in college is a necessary, yet insufficient step. Ensuring that those who enroll actually complete degree and certificate programs is the only way to attain the goal of a stronger America through higher education.
With support from PCCUA employees including Scott Post, Cyrus Vance, LeRoy Cook, George White, Carlos Merino and Cory Major, PCCUA students have taken the driver's seat in developing the new initiative. The group recently visited a similar program at the University of Memphis, where they had an opportunity to meet with the officers of the Empowered Men of Color and their advisors.
Armed with a list of ideas following that meeting, the group met recently to elect their own leadership: Victor Taylor, president; Quinton Dolls, vice president; Jazze-Rae Francis, secretary; Jatarious Baker, treasurer; and Justin Wilborn, sergeant-at-arms.
Still in its infancy, the group will soon undertake the task of drafting its constitution and creating its organizational structure. The group is also planning to host activities such as study groups, mentoring activities, and social activities that will foster brotherhood and academic success among its members. The members also hope to take a group of students to the 2014 Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference held on the campus of Texas A & M University in January. Other long-term goals identified by the group include possibly working to endow a scholarship program that will provide support for men of color at PCCUA.
As it supports PCCUA's mission of opening the door to high quality, accessible education opportunities and helping every student succeed, the initiative has received the support of PCCUA Chancellor Dr. Steven Murray and Vice Chancellor for Instruction Dr. Deborah King. For more information about the Minority Male Initiative, contact Cory Major at 870-338-6474, ext. 1021, or firstname.lastname@example.org.