NEW ORLEANS -- At Dillard University, a discussion is happening on how to help get African American students, primarily men, stay in school and graduate on time.
The latest numbers from the National Center For Educational Studies 35 percent of black males complete a bachelor's degree in six years or less, but in Louisiana, that number is far less.
Shaun Harper, with the University of Pennsylvania, has studied this issue. She said it's time for colleges to take some of the blame.
"What I argued in my keynote is there are institutional factors as well. There are faculty practices and other kinds of things the institution does and doesn't do to bolster student success."
Admissions counselor, Christopher Stewart, has seen one of the factors that contribute to the low graduation rates. He said some students are not interested in what their parents or peers want them to study, thus they get bored and eventually drop out.
“If you are in an area you don't want to be in, you are not challenged. You don't want to be there. You won't put your best foot forward."
Leaders at Dillard are now poised to be as successful as other colleges at getting black males to graduate on time. Harper said the first steps started in the auditorium.
The Lumina Foundation is sponsoring the Louisiana Summit on Black Male Success in Higher Education, at Dillard University. Lumina is an independent private foundation dedicated to increasing the number of African-Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials.
“We’re excited to have Lumina’s support in our efforts to develop creative ways to improve black male success in higher education,” said Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.
“Lumina’s sponsorship of this half-day summit exemplifies its mission of helping underrepresented individuals succeed in education. We are pleased to have this support.”
Kimbrough spearheaded a similar effort in Arkansas when he served as president of Philander Smith College. Kimbrough explained that the rate there was 11 percent but within a few years they were able to triple the rate by crafting programs targeted to improve the success of Black men.
“As we progressed, we were able to obtain funding, including a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation,” he added.