SUS initiates SUNO-SUSLA partnership
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 01:02
Reversing the trend of fewer African American male students attending and graduating from college is the goal of The Southern University System as it initiates The Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement pilot program this spring.
According to the U.S Department of Education, the national college graduation rate for black men is 33.1 percent compared with 44.8 percent for black women. The total graduation rate is 57.3 percent. Black men represent 7.9 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in America but only 2.8 percent of undergraduates at public flagship universities.
The Honoré Center is located on the Southern University at New Orleans campus. The center is named in recognition of a true "servant leader" namely retired Army. Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, a Southern University alum who was widely hailed by the news media for leading Task Force Katrina in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast in the summer of 2005.
"We will recruit 20 to 24 black male high school graduates, all from the class of 2012 and primarily from the metro-New Orleans area for the fall initiative," HCUSA director Warren A. Bell said.
The program allows students who don't meet the standard requirements of Southern University-New Orleans to enroll as Southern University-Shreveport students while completing the necessary remedial and basic/core courses that are required at SUNO.
The goal is that students who finish these courses will be able to apply for transfer into SUNO and eventually complete their bachelors degree with certification as teachers.
A student qualified for the program must be Pell grant eligible and precluded from admission to SUNO by the state's mandated standards.
"This is NOT really a "scholarship" program, "The Honoré students are expected to sign a contract with the university acknowledging that all of the extra financial resources provided to them are considered "forgivable loans" that they are liable for repayment unless and until they serve a minimum of two years as classroom teachers in a New Orleans area public school," said Bell.
HCUSA is part of a national demonstration to address the African-American male cradle-to-prison pipeline and its consequences.
A pipeline that consists of social and economic factors such as access to health care (including mental health care), underperforming schools, broken child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and a toxic youth culture that praises pimps and glorifies violence, that converge to reduce the odds of poor African-American and Latino children growing up to become productive adults.
"Across the nation, the absence of black males among the ranks of teachers has been identified as a critical problem, and that certainly applies in Louisiana. This program aims to address both needs, so that not only will we hopefully enhance the overall number of black college graduates, but also we would increase the ranks of black male school teachers," said Bell.