Black Male Success in Higher Education


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Black men’s dismal college enrollments, disengagement and
underachievement, and low rates of baccalaureate degree
completion are among the most pressing and complex issues in
American higher education. Perhaps more troubling than the
problems themselves is the way they are continually mishandled
by educators, policymakers, and concerned others.

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Black Male Success in Higher Education

  1. 1. Black Male Student Success in Higher EducationA R E P O R T F R O M T H E N AT I O N A L B L A C K M A L E C O L L E G E A C H I E V E M E N T S T U D Y | S H A U N R . H A R P E R , P h . D .
  2. 2. Table of Contents Message from the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Message from Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President, Morehouse College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Beyond Bad News about Black Male Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Reframing Black Male College Achievement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Participating Colleges and Universities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 About the Achievers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Key Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Getting to College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9This report was made possible through the Choosing Colleges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10generous support of Lumina Foundation,an Indianapolis-based private foundation Paying for College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11dedicated to expanding access to and suc- Transitioning to College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11cess in education beyond high school. Matters of Engagement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Additionally, the 20-state research study Responding Productively to Racism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13on which this report is based was fundedby the National Association of Student Additional Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Personnel Administrators; the American Recommendations for Improving Black Male Student Success in College. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19College Personnel Association; the NationalAcademic Advising Association; the Penn Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25State University College of Education; the References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26Penn State University Africana ResearchCenter; and the Penn State Children, Youth Advisory Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28and Families Consortium.Opinions expressed herein belong entirelyto the author and do not necessarily repre-sent viewpoints of the seven funders, PennGSE, or the Trustees of the University of RECOMMENDED CITATION FOR THIS REPORT:Pennsylvania. Harper, S. R. (2012). Black male student success in higher education: A report from the National Black Male College Achievement Study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania , Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.© 2012, The Trustees of the University ofPennsylvania. All rights reserved. The report is also available in .PDF for free download at
  3. 3. Message from the AuthorBlack men’s dismal college enrollments, disengagement and institutions; profiles of a few students I interviewed; a summaryunderachievement, and low rates of baccalaureate degree of key findings from the study; and implications for educators,completion are among the most pressing and complex issues in administrators, families, and policymakers.American higher education. Perhaps more troubling than theproblems themselves is the way they are continually mishandled This study was made possible through the support of sevenby educators, policymakers, and concerned others. Amplifying the research grants; each funder is listed on the inside front cover oftroubled status of Black male students at all levels of education this report. I will forever appreciate their generous sponsorship ofhas, unfortunately, yielded few solutions. Thus, educational the most intellectually exciting project I have ever undertaken. Ioutcomes for this population have remained stagnant or worsened am especially thankful to Lumina Foundation for its contributionin recent years. This is attributable, at least in part, to the deficit to the production of this report and financing the next phase oforientation that is constantly reinforced in media, academic my research on Black male achievement. My sincerest gratituderesearch journals, and educational practice. also belongs to the graduate research assistants, past and present, who have worked with me on data analysis, dissemination,For nearly a decade, I have argued that those who are interested and planning for this project: Keon M. McGuire, Dr. Tryan Black male student success have much to learn from Black men McMickens, Dr. Kimberly A. Truong, Dr. Andrew H. Nichols,who have actually been successful. To increase their educational Dr. Stephen John Quaye, and Dr. Christopher B.attainment, the popular one-sided emphasis on failure and low- Newman. Most importantly, I salute the 219 Blackperforming Black male undergraduates must be counterbalanced men who each spent 2-3 hours telling me aboutwith insights gathered from those who somehow manage to their lives and educational trajectories. No onenavigate their way to and through higher education, despite has taught or inspired me more than them.all that is stacked against them—low teacher expectations,insufficient academic preparation for college-level work, racist and Thank you for taking time to readculturally unresponsive campus environments, and the debilitating this report; feel free to pass it alongconsequences of severe underrepresentation, to name a few. to others who may find it useful and instructive. Please direct yourI am delighted to share with you this report from the largest- questions, feedback, and reactionsever qualitative research study on Black undergraduate men. The to me via e-mail at sharper1@National Black Male College Achievement Study is based on 219 This report and mystudents who have been successful in an array of postsecondary other publications on Black maleeducational settings. I was fortunate to interview them on 42 college achievement are availablecollege and university campuses across the United States. They for download at much to tell me about the personal, familial, and institutional of their achievement. Offered herein are some of themost important things I learned from these achievers. Deeper Warmest Regards,insights into their journeys and undergraduate experiences areoffered in my forthcoming book Exceeding Expectations: How Professor Shaun R. Harper, Ph.D.Black Male Students Suceed in College. Director, Center for the Study of Race and Equity in EducationIncluded in this report are details about the research designand methods; information on the full sample and participating 1
  4. 4. Message from Dr. Robert M. Franklin Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the esteemed sixth president of Morehouse College, We know that providing positive success messaging, group mentoring, the helped mentor an entire generation of young leaders on our campus – many careful monitoring of progress, compassionate ministering when wounds of whom were, to quote the title of Dr. Mays’s autobiography, “born to must be addressed, and the strategic investment of money to support rebel.” These students were educated not to assimilate to the status quo, academic progress work. We feel the burden of insufficient resources and the but to challenge and compel it to change for the betterment of all. Mays capacity to do more. observed that at Morehouse, “there is an air of expectancy” that every young man on campus was capable of becoming exceptional as a leader, as a professional, and as a human being. That is the spirit that animates this “It is conceivable, therefore, that some American wonderful report on Black male student achievement in higher education. youth, confused and frustrated, as I surely was, may This report is unique and important in many ways. It summarizes data that scholars and policymakers get a glimmer of hope from reading these pages and must engage to responsibly improve life prospects for young men of color. It also go forth to accomplish something worthwhile in life provides key findings that educators, families, community leaders, and in spite of the system” other advocates can begin to replicate and adapt for young – from Born to Rebel, the autobiography of Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays people. And it offers bright ideas and useful resources for additional study and One final note: I appreciate the photograph on the front cover of the report. understanding. Like similar documents, it shows a young African American boy who is full of promise and potential. It humanizes the cold sterility of statistics and facts. At For years, Morehouse the end of the day, we need to be reminded that we are dealing with human has understood and lives, and they belong to all of us. practiced many things that work I commend Professor Harper for this tour de force of knowledge, research, and are highlighted insights, ideas, and advocacy. Morehouse stands ready to advance the work in in this wonderful which we must all share to improve young Black men’s lives and educational document. What outcomes. works? Messaging. Mentoring. Monitoring. Most Sincerely, Ministering. Money. We have seen the Dr. Robert M. Franklin same young men whom President, Morehouse College others gave up on come alive here on our campus.2
  5. 5. Beyond Bad News aboutBlack Male StudentsThe purpose of this report is to provide an anti-deficit in comparison to their same-race female counterpartsview of Black male college achievement. Therefore, (see Table 1).little attention will be devoted to reminding readersof the extent to which Black men are disengaged and TABLE 1: Postsecondary Degree Attainmentunderrepresented among college students and degree by Level and Sex, 2009earners. Here is a summary of problems and inequitiesthat are typically amplified in public discourse, research BLACK BLACKjournals, policy reports, and various forms of media: MEN % WOMEN % Only 47% of Black male students graduated on time from U.S. high schools in 2008, compared to 78% Associate’s 31.5 68.5 of White male students (Schott Foundation for Public Bachelor’s 34.1 65.9 Education, 2010). Black male students are often comparatively less prepared than are others for the rigors of college- Master’s 28.2 71.8 Anything but Bland level academic work (Bonner II & Bailey, 2006; Loury, First Professional1 38.0 62.0 James R. Bland, Florida A&M University 2004; Lundy-Wagner & Gasman, 2011; Palmer, Several hundred people follow @jrbland on Twitter. They Doctoral2 33.5 66.5 Davis, & Hilton, 2009). know him as an actor, writer, director, and Co-President of Hometeam Entertainment, LLC. Most professionals in the In 2002, Black men comprised only 4.3% of students SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education (2010) film and entertainment industry choose to pursue only one enrolled at institutions of higher education, the role at a time—they either act or direct or lead the company, exact same percentage as in 1976 (Harper, 2006a; Black men’s representation in graduate and but rarely all three concurrently. But few people who knew Strayhorn, 2010). professional schools lags behind that of their Latino James Bland when he was an undergraduate student at Black men are overrepresented on revenue- and Asian American male counterparts. For instance, Florida A&M University would likely be surprised that he generating intercollegiate sports teams. In 2009, during a 30-year period (1977-2007), Black men simultaneously plays four different roles in his profession. they were only 3.6% of undergraduate students, but experienced a 109% increase in post-baccalaureate In fact, some might rightly observe that it was at FAMU that degree attainment, compared to 242% for Latino James learned how to effectively multitask and maximize 55.3% of football and basketball players at public men and 425% for Asian American men; the his time. Only a few days after arriving on campus, he ran for NCAA Division I institutions (Harper, 2012). and was elected vice president of the freshmen class. From comparative rate of increase for Black women was Black male college completion rates are lowest there his campus involvement snowballed; it culminated 253% (Harper & Davis III, 2012). among both sexes and all racial/ethnic groups in U.S. with James being elected vice president of the entire Student higher education (Harper, 2006a; Strayhorn, 2010). Black undergraduate men, like some other racial Government Association his senior year. In the interview, minority students at predominantly white institutions, he was asked to name three things he figured out during Across four cohorts of undergraduates, the six-year routinely encounter racist stereotypes and racial his first year in college about what it took to be a successful graduation rate for Black male students attending student. Becoming socially and politically connected and public colleges and universities was 33.3%, compared maintaining a disciplined focus on goal attainment were to 48.1% for students overall (Harper, 2012). two of his responses. “I also learned that you have to grind, because if you don’t hustle, somebody will come in right Black men’s degree attainment across all levels of 1 For example, J.D., M.D., and D.D.S. degrees behind you to take what you want,” he said. Surely, James postsecondary education is alarmingly low, especially 2 Only Ph.D., Ed.D., and academic doctorates took these lessons with him to Hollywood after college.
  6. 6. Reframing Black Male microaggressions that undermine their achievement and sense of belonging (Bonner II, 2010; Harper, 2009; Singer, College Achievement 2005; Smith, Allen, & Danley, 2007; Smith, Yosso, & Solórzano, 2007). In comparison to their same-race female counterparts, Black men take fewer notes in class, spend less time writing papers and This national study moves beyond deficit perspectives on over the popular approach of asking why Black men are so completing class assignments, participate achievement by highlighting persons, policies, programs, disengaged on college campuses. Likewise, instead of focusing less frequently in campus activities, hold and resources that help Black men succeed across a range of on the resources, social and cultural capital, and pre-college fewer leadership positions, and report college and university contexts. Instead of adding to the now educational privilege that some participants lacked, the study lower grades (Cuyjet, 1997; Harper, exhaustive body of literature and conversations about why explored how they acquired various forms of capital that they Carini, Bridges, & Hayek, 2004). Black male enrollments and degree attainment rates are so low, did not possess when they entered their respective colleges andThese are pressing problems that indisputably this study sought instructive insights from engaged student universities – this was especially interesting, as 56.7% of thewarrant ongoing scholarly examination, leaders who did well and maximized their college experiences. participants came to college from low-income and workingaggressive intervention, strategic institutional Emphasis in the study was placed on understanding how class families. The study also explored how these studentsleadership, greater transparency and Black male achievers managed to gain admission to their negotiated popularity alongside achievement in peer groupsaccountability, and bold policy responses. institutions, overcome hurdles that typically disadvantage their and thrived in environments that were sometimes racist andHowever, also needed are instructive insights peers, and amass portfolios of experiences that rendered them often culturally unresponsive. Table 2 shows a sample offrom Black men who have experienced competitive for internships, jobs, and admission to highly- commonly asked questions that were reframed to amplify thecollege differently—those who actually selective graduate and professional schools. upside of achievement.enrolled, were actively engaged insideand outside the classroom, did well In the interviews, considerable emphasis was placed on Administrators (provosts, deans of students, directors ofacademically, graduated, and went on the students’ pre-college experiences and the role that multicultural affairs, etc.) nominated and student bodyto pursue additional degrees beyond the family members, peers, and significant others played in the presidents helped identify Black male undergraduates onbaccalaureate. Who are they, and what formation of their college aspirations. Questions then captured the 42 campuses who fit the profile described on Page 8 ofcan they teach us? Unfortunately, their chronologically what the 219 men experienced, who this report. Each student participated in a 2-3 hour face-to-journeys to and through college have been supported them, and which interventions enhanced face individual interview on his campus, and some follow-upovershadowed by the alarming statistics their educational experiences and enabled them to succeed. interviews were conducted via telephone. Only two of 221reported in this section. Understanding what compelled them to become actively nominees declined the invitation to participate in this study. engaged, both inside and outside the classroom, was chosen TABLE 2: Deficit-Oriented Questions Anti-Deficit Reframing Why do so few Black male students Why are Black male students’ grade How were aspirations for postsec- types, academic underpreparedness, enroll in college? point averages often the lowest ondary education cultivated among and other negative forces? among both sexes and all racial/ethnic Black male students who are currently Why are Black male undergraduates What resources are most effective groups on many campuses? enrolled in college? so disengaged in campus leadership in helping Black male achievers earn positions and out-of-class activities? Why are Black men’s relationships with What compels Black undergraduate men GPAs above 3.0 in a variety faculty and administrators to pursue leadership and engagement of majors, including STEM fields? Why are Black male students’ rates of so weak? opportunities on their campuses? persistence and degree attainment How do Black men go about lowest among both sexes and all racial/ How do Black male collegians man- cultivating meaningful, value-added ethnic groups in higher education? age to persist and earn their degrees, relationships with key institutional despite transition issues, racist stereo- agents?
  7. 7. Anti-Deficit AchievementFrameworkHere is a framework that researchers, educators, and administrators can use to better understand Black male student success in college. It is informed by threedecades of literature on Black men in education and society, as well as theories from sociology, psychology, gender studies, and education. The frameworkinverts questions that are commonly asked about educational disadvantage, underrepresentation, insufficient preparation, academic underperformance,disengagement, and Black male student attrition. It includes some questions that researchers could explore to better understand how Black undergraduatemen successfully navigate their way to and through higher education and onward to rewarding post-college options. This framework is not intended to be anexhaustive or prescriptive register of research topics; instead, it includes examples of the anti-deficit questioning employed in the National Black Male CollegeAchievement Study. Insights into these questions shed light on three pipeline points (pre-college socialization and readiness, college achievement, and post-college success) as well as eight researchable dimensions of achievement (familial factors, K-12 school forces, out-of-school college prep resources, classroomexperiences, out-of-class engagement, enriching educational experiences, graduate school enrollment, and career readiness). Each dimension includes 2-4sample questions. Given what the literature says about the significant impact of peers and faculty on college student development and success (see Pascarella& Terenzini, 2005), particular attention should be devoted to understanding their role in the undergraduate experiences of Black male achievers. A version ofthis framework has been adapted for the study of students of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (see Harper, 2010). PRE-COLLEGE SOCIALIZATION AND COLLEGE ACHIEVEMENT POST-COLLEGE SUCCESS READINESS FAMILIAL FACTORS CLASSROOM EXPERIENCES GRADUATE SCHOOL ENROLLMENTHow do family members nurture and sustain What compels one to speak and Which instructional practices best What happened in college to developBlack male students’ interest in school? participate actively in courses in which engage Black male collegians? and support Black male students’ he is the only Black student? interest in pursuing degrees beyond theHow do parents help shape Black men’s How do Black men craft productive baccalaureate?college aspirations? How do Black undergraduate men earn responses to stereotypes encountered in GPAs above 3.0 in majors for which classrooms? How do Black undergraduate men who they were academically underprepared? experience racism at predominantly white K-12 SCHOOL FORCES universities maintain their commitmentWhat do teachers and other school to pursuing graduate and professionalagents do to assist Black men in getting PEERS PERSISTENCE FACULTY degrees at similar types of institutions?to college?How do Black male students negotiate CAREER READINESS OUT-OF-CLASS ENGAGEMENT ENRICHING EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCESacademic achievement alongside peer What compels Black men to take What developmental gains do Black Which college experiences enable Blackacceptance? advantage of campus resources and male achievers attribute to studying men to compete successfully for careers engagement opportunities? abroad? in their fields?OUT-OF-SCHOOL COLLEGE PREP RESOURCES What prepares Black male achievers for What unique educational benefits and How do Black men cultivate value-How do low-income and first generation outcomes are conferred to Black male added relationships with faculty and the racial politics they will encounter inBlack male students acquire knowledge student leaders? administrators? post-college workplace settings?about college? How do faculty and other institutional How do achievers foster mutually What do Black male students findWhich programs and experiences enhance supportive relationships with their appealing about doing research with agents enhance Black men’s careerBlack men’s college readiness? lower-performing same-race male peers? professors? development and readiness? 5
  8. 8. Participating Colleges Highly-Selective Private Research Universities TOTAL NUMBER OF BLACK MEN AS % BLACK MALE 41 PARTICIPANTS BLACK MALE OF FULL-TIME SIX-YEAR UNDERGRADUATES UNDERGRADUATES GRADUATION RATEand Universities Brown University Columbia University Harvard University 171 236 252 3.0 3.7 3.5 85.7 77.5 93.5 Princeton University 156 3.2 88.9Interviews were conducted with Black male undergraduate achievers at 42 colleges and universities in Stanford University 309 4.7 88.020 states across the country. Six different institution types are represented in the national study. University of Pennsylvania 307 3.0 91.2Knowing more about the overall status of Black men on each campus is essential to understandingchallenges the 219 achievers successfully navigated. Collectively, the 30 predominantly white Public Research Universities TOTAL NUMBER OF BLACK MEN AS % BLACK MALEinstitutions in the study enrolled nearly 322,000 full-time undergraduates; only 2.9% of them were 32 PARTICIPANTS BLACK MALE OF FULL-TIME SIX-YEAR UNDERGRADUATES UNDERGRADUATES GRADUATION RATEBlack men. At the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (excluding Morehouse, one of threemen’s colleges in the study), undergraduate women comprised nearly two-thirds (63%) of Black Indiana University 534 1.9 45.8student enrollments. Michigan State University 993 3.0 57.0Across the 42 Ohio State University 998 2.8 43.1institutions, only Public Historically Black Universities Purdue University 571 1.9 46.358% of Black men TOTAL NUMBER OF BLACK MEN AS % BLACK MALE University of Illinois, 34 PARTICIPANTS BLACK MALE OF FULL-TIME SIX-YEAR 795 2.6 62.5graduated within UNDERGRADUATES UNDERGRADUATES GRADUATION RATE Urbana-Champaignsix years, compared Albany State University 1074 34.7 34.9 University of Michigan, 626 2.5 63.5 Ann Arborto 70% for all Cheyney University 525 41.6 23.8undergraduates on Florida A&M University 3308 39.5 28.4the same campuses. Norfolk State University 1501 34.7 22.1 Private Historically Black Colleges & UniversitiesAt the time this TOTAL NUMBER OF BLACK MEN AS % BLACK MALE North Carolina 42 PARTICIPANTS BLACK MALE OF FULL-TIME SIX-YEARreport was written, 1607 31.0 32.9 UNDERGRADUATES UNDERGRADUATES GRADUATION RATE Central Universityall but two of the Tennessee State University 1932 30.8 34.1 Clark Atlanta University 813 24.1 39.5219 participants Fisk University 173 23.4 43.2in the study had Liberal Arts Colleges Hampton University 1557 33.8 43.0earned their Howard University 1422 21.6 61.7 TOTAL NUMBER OF BLACK MEN AS % BLACK MALEbachelor’s degree; 45 PARTICIPANTS BLACK MALE OF FULL-TIME SIX-YEAR Morehouse College 2536 95.4 60.7three have since UNDERGRADUATES UNDERGRADUATES GRADUATION RATE Tuskegee University 932 38.1 38.8received doctorates. Amherst College 65 3.9 95.7 Claremont McKenna College 26 2.3 85.7Here is a list of DePauw University 64 2.7 61.5 Comprehensive State Universities TOTAL NUMBER OF BLACK MEN AS % BLACK MALEparticipating colleges Haverford College 40 3.4 85.7 25 PARTICIPANTS BLACK MALE OF FULL-TIME SIX-YEARand universities, Lafayette College 71 3.0 57.1 UNDERGRADUATES UNDERGRADUATES GRADUATION RATEalong with data on Occidental College 50 2.7 77.8 California State Polytechnic 301 1.8 36.4 University, Pomonaenrollments and Pomona College 54 3.5 77.8graduation rates California State University, Saint John’s University 19 1.0 33.3 453 1.9 30.5 Long Beachfor Black male Swarthmore College 48 3.2 83.3 CUNY Brooklyn College 704 7.8 31.8undergraduates on Vassar College 24 1.0 80.0 Lock Haven University 142 3.1 25.0each campus: Wabash College 55 6.0 66.7 Towson University 484 3.4 64.6 Williams College 82 4.1 100.0 Valdosta State University 737 8.9 35.4
  9. 9. About The AchieversThe national study included 219 Black male undergraduates who had earned cumulative grade point averages above 3.0, established lengthy records ofleadership and active engagement in multiple student organizations, developed meaningful relationships with campus administrators and faculty outsidethe classroom, participated in enriching educational experiences (for example, study abroad programs, internships, service learning, and summer researchprograms), and earned numerous merit-based scholarships and honors in recognition of their college achievements. Tremendous diversity is represented in the 73.2% ofsample, as evidenced by these participant demographics and family characteristics: participantsClass Standing Born Outside the U.S. 8.9% Immediate Post-Undergraduate PlansFreshmen 1.4% Enroll in Graduate School 54.8% graduatedSophomores 17.3% Attended High School Work Full-Time 31.1%Juniors 35.2% Outside the U.S. 4.0% Unsure at the Time 14.1% from publicSeniors 46.1% high schools High School Type and Ultimate Degree AspirationAverage College GPA 3.39 Racial Demographics Bachelor’s Degree 3.8% Public - Predominantly Black 28.6% Master’s Degree 48.8%Undergraduate Major Private - Predominantly Black 5.9% Doctorate 47.4% More thanBusiness 20.7% Public - Predominantly White 17.2%Education 2.6% Private - Predominantly White 16.1% half wereHumanities 12.9%Social and Behavioral Sciences 32.7% Public - Racially Diverse Private - Racially Diverse 27.4% 4.8% from lowSTEM1 23.3% 1 Science, Technology, Engineering, andOther 7.8% Mathematics. income and working class familiesFamily Structure Socioeconomic Status Mother’s Highest Father’s Highest Single Parent 35.8% Low Income 17.8% Education Education Two Parents 60.5% Working Class 38.9% No College Degree 43.0% No College Degree 49.5% Other Caregiver 3.7% Middle Class 39.5% Associate’s Degree 6.5% Associate’s Degree 1.1% Affluent 3.8% Bachelor’s Degree 27.9% Bachelor’s Degree 22.0% Master’s Degree 18.3% Master’s Degree 19.9% Doctorate 4.3% Doctorate 7.5% 7
  10. 10. Rubin Pusha IIIB.S., Albany State University,2007M.S., Indiana University, 2009Candidate for the Doctor ofJurisprudence Degree (J.D.),Indiana University MaurerSchool of Law
  11. 11. Key FindingsInterviews with the 219 Black male achievers yielded over 4,500 single-spaced pages of transcript data. Thus, furnishing details on everything found in thestudy is beyond the scope of this report. Instead, six categories of major findings are described in this section. A more elaborate presentation of data, includingillustrative quotes from the interviews and more extensive participant profiles, are offered in my forthcoming book, Exceeding Expectations: How Black MaleStudents Succeed in College.Getting to College In the interviews, participants were invited to talk tutoring and academic support programs, collegeWhen asked, “Did you always know you were going about what their three best Black male childhood preparatory initiatives, and summer academiesto college?” the overwhelming majority of students friends were presently doing with their lives. Few and camps, to name a few. As noted earlier, 56.7responded, “Yes—it was never a question of if, but achievers had a trio of same-race best friends who percent of the participants grew up in low-incomewhere.” Parents consistently conveyed what many were all enrolled in college—some of their friends and working class families. Hence, many of theof the participants characterized as non-negotiable had dropped out of high school, others had gone educational resources parents accessed on theirexpectations that they would pursue postsecondary to college but dropped out, and a few were behalf were available at no From boyhood through high school, incarcerated. When asked what differentiatedparents and other family members reinforced to their own paths from those of their peers who The participants’ early schooling experiencesthe achievers that college was the most viable were not enrolled in college, the participants almost always included at least one influentialpathway to social uplift and success. Interestingly, almost unanimously cited parenting practices. teacher who helped solidify their interest in goingnearly half the participants came from homes Their friends’ parents, the achievers believed, did to college. Several told stories about how a fewwhere neither parent had attained a bachelor’s not consistently maintain high expectations and educators went beyond typical teaching dutiesdegree. Although they had little or no firsthand were not as involved in their sons’ schooling. to ensure these young men had the information,experience with higher education, these parents By contrast, most of the achievers’ parents and resources, and support necessary to succeedcultivated within their children a belief that college family members more aggressively sought out in school. Noteworthy, however, is that somewas the only allowable next step after high school. educational resources to ensure their success— of these educators neglected to invest in otherObama 2.0Ryan Bowen, Occidental CollegeBoth are smart, both are multiracial, both attended Occidental College, and both were elected president—one of the United Statesof America and the other of the student body at Oxy. During his first year of college, Ryan Bowen found himself constantly engagingquestions related to his identity, as many of his White peers attempted to convince him that he “wasn’t really Black.” These and otherexperiences compelled him to organize numerous programs focused on race, identities, oppression, unity and solidarity, and social jus-tice. In the interview, he said, “I think about race like most of the day, every day. I see things in racial and gendered lenses. Sometimes Iget frustrated by being one of very few people who is willing to engage the complexities of race on this campus.” Talking about thesetopics in semi-structured intergroup dialogue programs helped Ryan craft productive responses to the racism and racial stereotypes heencountered on campus. In addition, he was involved in meaningful photojournalistic and social justice projects in Haiti, Rwanda, Cuba,Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Ryan says Barack Obama inspired him to pursue the presidency of the Associated Students of Oc-cidental College. He was only the second Black person in the institution’s history to be chosen student body president. Ryan presentlyowns a photography business in New York City. His work has been featured in the Huffington Post as well as on CNN, Fox News, and ABC. 9
  12. 12. Black male students in comparable ways. Put expectations for how college would be and what Similarly, participants who chose comprehensive differently, the achievers benefitted from the favor was required to succeed. state universities often pursued a smaller and of their teachers in ways that most of their same- more local or regional set of college options. Men race male peers did not. Many participants felt Choosing Colleges at the public research universities often chose teachers (especially White women) were incapable As noted earlier, this study was conducted at them because they were perceivably the best and of engaging meaningfully with more than one six different institution types—small liberal most affordable institutions to which they were or a few Black male students at a time—only arts colleges, large public research universities, admitted; most were in-state residents. Many these teachers’ favorites received such attention. highly selective private research universities, of them also applied to comprehensive state Most considered themselves among the lucky comprehensive state universities, private universities and public HBCUs, but thought that few to have had teachers who, for some reason, Historically Black Colleges and Universities attending a public flagship university would offer a thought they were worth the investment. It (HBCUs), and public HBCUs. The participants cited wider array of post-college career options. seems important to acknowledge here that the myriad factors that influenced their choices of participants did not receive preferential treatment where to apply and ultimately enroll. When asked who helped them most in searching from teachers because they were among the for and choosing a college, most participants highest-achieving students in their schools. In Those who chose liberal arts colleges and highly named their parents, extended family members fact, fewer than 20 percent had participated in selective research universities often did so because (for example, cousins who had gone to college), K-12 programs for the gifted and academically they had the academic credentials to gain and high school teachers. Surprisingly, few said talented; only 49.3 percent had taken an admission and, more importantly, because they their guidance counselors. After this was brought Advanced Placement course in high school; and were granted financial aid that enabled them to to their attention, the overwhelming majority of some graduated from high school with cumulative afford tuition at those institutions (more details are participants explained that their counselors were GPAs below 3.0. However, most participants were offered in the next section). more harmful than helpful. Accordingly, some actively involved and held leadership positions in counselors told these students that applying to school clubs and campus activities, a theme that is Despite their legacy of providing access to students elite private institutions like Williams College revisited in a later section of this report. who might otherwise have few or no other or Brown University was pointless because they postsecondary options, HBCUs were deliberately stood no chance of being admitted. Instead, they Bryan Barnhill II, a low-income student at Harvard, chosen by many participants in this study. Put were encouraged to apply to comprehensive state attributed his college readiness to initiatives differently, they were not these men’s only college universities and HBCUs. Several students at the such as the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering options. Some applied exclusively to HBCUs 18 elite private colleges and universities said that Program and the Summer Engineering Academy because the institutions have upheld longstanding they would not have been at those institutions sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Minority reputations for providing supportive educational had they taken seriously the advice their guidance Engineering Program Office. Others in the study environments to Black students. Others, especially counselors offered. Some others on those same named several publicly and privately funded those who attended predominantly white high campuses reflected on how their counselors programs in their home states and communities schools, applied and were admitted to a range of discouraged them from applying to HBCUs. that offer racial/ethnic minorities, first-generation institutions, but ultimately decided a Black College Similarly, students at the HBCUs who had also college goers, and lower-income students early experience would be best. A few participants been admitted to predominantly white institutions exposure to higher education. The participants, were offered admission to Princeton and Stanford, said their guidance counselors tried to convince especially those from rural and urban areas, said but instead chose Morehouse or Howard. There them that attending a Black College would these types of initiatives were extremely valuable. were some noteworthy differences by the types of somehow disadvantage them. When asked about Without these programs, some achievers insisted HBCUs participants chose. Those at the six private the race of their counselors, the overwhelming that they would not have been prepared to HBCUs were much more likely to have applied to a majority of participants indicated they were White. compete for admission to college. Moreover, range of institutions, whereas men at the six public Many who attended public high schools had early exposure to higher education via programs institutions were more likely to have applied to limited access to their guidance counselors hosted on college and university campuses helped only one institution or exclusively to public HBCUs because the student-to-counselor ratio was participants form their expectations. That is, in their home states. so large. As noted earlier, more than 73% of many entered their freshman year with a set of participants in this study graduated from public10
  13. 13. high schools. Some students at the liberal arts colleges participants financed their undergraduate educationand elite private research universities had the benefit of by applying for as many scholarships and fellowshipsparticipating in programs like Prep-for-Prep that gave as possible, working in paid summer internships awaythem access to counselors who could advise them on from their campuses, and by pursuing paid studenttheir college searches, and those who attended private leadership positions on campus (for example, being ahigh schools often enjoyed a larger supply of guidance resident assistant or a cabinet-level officer in studentcounselors. government). Common among the 219 participants was an aggressive habit of applying for as manyPaying for College opportunities as possible, including those that helpedTwo-thirds of Black men who start at public colleges them alleviate financial stress during their college years.and universities do not graduate within six years, whichis the lowest college completion rate among both sexes Transitioning to Collegeand all racial groups in higher education (Harper, 2012). Participants believed they were successful in collegeExplanations for this are complex and attributable to because they got off to a good start. Some enteredan expansive set of factors. One problem that has been their institutions through summer bridge programs thatwell documented in the Journal of College Student brought them to campus 6-8 weeks before the startRetention, the Journal of Student Financial Aid, and of their freshman year. These programs allowed themother publications is that many students drop out of to take introductory courses, become acquainted withcollege because they cannot afford to pay tuition and resources their institutions offered, and get acclimatedother educational expenses. Across all six institution to predominantly White environments beforetypes, men in the national study attributed much of thousands of their White peers arrived for the start oftheir success to being able to pursue their bachelor’sdegrees without the burden of financial stress. For fall semester. Bridge programs made large institutions feel smaller and easier to navigate, the participants First in the Familyexample, overall, fewer than half (47.8%) of Black men recalled. They also allowed newcomers to interact with Raymond Roy-Pace, Lock Haven Universityat the private HBCUs in the sample graduate within six faculty and administrators, as well as older same-race “I am tired of seeing so many people around me, as far asyears. Participants on those campuses reported that students who served as peer mentors. like family and friends, fall by the wayside. I think me suc-many of their peers withdrew for financial reasons or ceeding is not only good for me because I can do things Itransferred to less expensive public institutions. Black male student leaders also played an important like to do, such as travel and have nice things, but it would role in helping the achievers transition smoothly to also help somebody else who is in the same environmentMen at the comprehensive state universities and their colleges and universities. In the interviews, several that I came from realize success is possible.” This was Ray-public HBCUs were considerably more likely than were participants named same-race peers, namely juniors mond Roy-Pace’s response to the interview question aboutparticipants elsewhere to work off-campus jobs. This what inspired him to go to college. He was raised by his and seniors, who reached out to them early in their grandmother in North Philadelphia, where few of hismight help explain, at least in part, why Black male six- first semester at the institution to share navigational peers graduated from high school, let alone enrolled inyear graduation rates were lowest on those campuses insights and resources, connect them to powerful college. Raymond interacted with few Black men who had(37.3% and 29.4%, respectively). Low-income and information networks, and introduce them to value- attended college before he went to Lock Haven Univer-working class students at the Ivy League universities, added engagement opportunities on campus. Several sity. As the first person in his family to attend college, Ray-Stanford, and the liberal arts colleges often benefitted achievers agreed that these peers were more influential mond felt tremendous responsibility to do all that was re-from campus policies that permit students whose than were their assigned academic advisors, who often quired to attain his bachelor’s degree. He made the dean’sparents earn below a certain income threshold (for helped only with their course selections. It was peers, list his first year, which assured him that he was capable ofexample, $50,000) to attend at no cost. Moreover, mostly older Black men, who helped the achievers handling the rigors of college-level work. At Lock Haven,achievers who attended DePauw University, Lafayette figure out how to succeed. “I started with this macho he played on the football team until he suffered a career-College, and other institutions that host the Posse mentality that I could do everything on my own ending injury. He then wisely invested his out-of-class timeScholars Program found tremendous relief in knowing and I wasn’t going to ask for help,” one participant in clubs and organizations, including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. After college, Raymond returned to his hometheir tuition and fees were covered by their fellowships. confessed. But he went on to tell how he learned in a community to be the inspirational figure he talked aboutAt other institutions, especially the public universities, Black men’s discussion group led by older students that in the interview. He still proudly resides in North Philly. 11
  14. 14. asking for help was not a sign of weakness. “They told The achievers attributed much of their college me I would really look weak if I quit college because I success to their engagement experiences. Out-of- was too proud to ask for help. They also made sure I class experiences had spillover effects on academicFigure 2: Race/Gender-Specific Gains knew exactly where to go to get exactly what I needed performance for almost all the students interviewed. and Outcomes to be successful. Now, I say the same things to Black That is, the men believed they earned higher grades male freshmen when they join our group.” because they had less time to waste, interacted frequently with academically-driven others, and Matters of Engagement had reputations to uphold. Moreover, establishingActive Engagement In our 2009 book, Student Engagement in Higher relationships with faculty who advised clubs andSpecifically Helps Black Education, University of Maryland Professor Stephen organizations in which they held membershipUndergraduate Men: John Quaye and I cite over 30 years of research that compelled the achievers to work harder to impress showcases educational benefits conferred to students those same professors when they took their classes. who are actively engaged on college and university Also, participants felt these faculty members treated Resolve masculine identity conflicts campuses. Researchers such as George Kuh, Alexander them better in class because of their substantive (Harper, 2004) Astin, Nancy Evans, Vincent Tinto, Marcia Baxter interactions outside the classroom. Additionally, being Magolda, Ernest Pascarella, and Patrick Terenzini have a highly engaged student leader also introduced the Negotiate peer support for achievement found that active engagement produces educational achievers to networks of peers (within and beyond their (Harper 2006b) benefits and gains in the following domains: same race) who shared notes, study strategies, and cognitive and intellectual development, moral and other resources that proved helpful in difficult courses. Develop political acumen for success ethical development, practical competence and skills in professional settings in which they transferability, racial and gender identity development, In addition to naming the same benefits noted in the are racially underrepresented (Harper, and college adjustment. Not surprisingly, these and higher education and student affairs research literature, 2006c) other scholars have also found that students who the 219 participants in this study cited at least seven devote more time to academic-related activities outside race/gender-specific gains and educational outcomes Develop strong Black identities of class earn higher grade point averages. One of the associated with engagement. These are listed in Figure that incite productive activism on most widely acknowledged profits of engagement is its 2 and have been written about in the publications cited predominantly white campuses (Harper nexus with college student persistence. “We know one therein. & Quaye, 2007) thing for certain: Students who are actively engaged in educationally purposeful activities and experiences, Despite their own high levels of leadership in student Acquire social capital and access to both inside and outside the classroom, are more likely organizations and campus activities, participants resources, politically wealthy persons, than are their disengaged peers to persist through almost unanimously asserted that their same-race male and exclusive networks (Harper, 2008) graduation” (Harper & Quaye, 2009, p. 4). peers were considerably less engaged. Instead, the majority of Black undergraduate men devoted their Craft productive responses to racist Participants in the National Black Male College out-of-class time to playing video games and sports, stereotypes (Harper, 2009) Achievement Study were all extensively engaged pursuing romantic relationships, and gathering socially student leaders on their campuses. Because of the well- with others in designated hangouts on campus. The Overcome previous educational and documented benefits associated with educationally achievers believed disengagement was a major factor socioeconomic disadvantage purposeful engagement, having a lengthy record of in explaining poor academic performance and high (Harper, 2007; Harper & Griffin, 2011) leadership in multiple student organizations, developing rates of attrition among Black undergraduate men at meaningful relationships with campus administrators their institutions. Their comparatively higher rates of and faculty outside the classroom, and participating engagement not only influenced how the achievers in enriching educational experiences (for example, approached their academic endeavors, but also study abroad programs, internships, service learning, afforded them opportunities to compete successfully and summer research programs) were all criteria for for jobs and internships, study abroad programs, participation in the study. and coveted slots in highly selective graduate and 12
  15. 15. professional schools. Many participants recognized how their White classmates made remarks like, consciously resisted the internalization of racistways in which they had been privileged at the “The only reason you got into this university is assumptions that peers and others had aboutexpense of their lower-performing, less engaged because of affirmative action.” Consistent with Black men. Instead, they often responded byBlack male peers on campus. Because there were findings from other research on Black achievers asking perpetrators to explain the basis of theirso few Black men with academic and engagement in college (Bonner II, 2010; Fries-Britt & Griffin, presuppositions—for example, one participant atrecords comparable to theirs, the achievers 2007; Strayhorn, 2009), participants at the the University of Illinois asked a White classmate,were recurrently rewarded with experiences that predominantly white institutions felt pressure “I’m not even tall, so what made you assume Iconferred upon them additional developmental to prove they were admitted because of their was on the basketball team?” The strategy wasoutcomes and educational benefits. intellectual prowess, not their race. The achievers to make perpetrators do the work of confronting also described how they were constantly asked their own assumptions and biases.Responding Productively to Racism which sport they played. Some had grownIn our 2011 article published in the Journal of accustomed to being congratulated repeatedly The achievers decided against responding in angerCollege Student Development, co-authors and on Mondays if the football or basketball team or waiting until hours later to reflect on a racistI introduced the term “onlyness,” which we beat its weekend opponent. Moreover, numerous encounter; many became skilled at simultaneouslydefined as “the psychoemotional burden of White students seemed certain that the achievers embarrassing and educating their peers throughhaving to strategically navigate a racially politicized were rap and hip-hop music connoisseurs, spoke the thoughtful act of calmly questioning theirspace occupied by few peers, role models, and understood slang, could teach them how misconceptions. This was one of many racismand guardians from one’s same racial or ethnic to dance, or knew where they could purchase response strategies that had been taught by theirgroup” (see Harper et al., 2011, p. 190). Nearly marijuana. Regardless of their backgrounds, it was same-race peers, usually through predominantlyall the participants who attended one of the 30 usually assumed by peers and professors alike that Black or ethnic student organizations, duringpredominantly white institutions in the National the participants grew up in high-poverty urban summer bridge programs or minority studentBlack Male College Achievement Study had been ghettos and fatherless homes. A few were even orientations, and via Black men’s discussion groupsin classrooms where they were the only Black called niggers on campus. Being student body (for example, Black Men United at the Universitystudent. Some liberal arts colleges enrolled fewer president, for example, did not afford immunity of Pennsylvania and H.E.A.D.S. at the Universitythan 50 Black undergraduate men; hence, several from these and other racist encounters. With the of Michigan). These clubs and organizations wereachievers said they could count on one hand exception of the affirmative action claims, these also spaces where other students of color sharedthe number of Black male students they saw on experiences were as common at highly selective stories about racist experiences and collaborativelycampus in a given week. Onlyness engendered a institutions as they were at comprehensive state strategized ways to respond effectively to similarprofound sense of pressure to be the spokesperson universities, and on urban and rural campuses situations. Furthermore, these were also venuesor ambassador for people of color in general and alike. in which the participants’ intellectual competenceBlack men in particular. Being one of few Black and sense of belonging were affirmed. Interactingmen with whom White students and professors Claude Steele, eminent psychologist and dean meaningfully with other academically talentedinteracted led to a set of common experiences of the Stanford University School of Education, Black student leaders confirmed their individualthat threatened the participants’ achievement and has written extensively about the anxieties and collective talents, the achievers reported. Thissense of belonging. Despite being among the most some students experience as they think about proved useful when they encountered stereotypesvisible and actively engaged student leaders on confirming negative stereotypes regarding their and onlyness in various spaces on campus,campus, men interviewed for this study were not racial/ethnic groups, which in turn affects their including classrooms.exempt from racism, stereotypes, and racial insults. academic performance; this has been termedSeveral participants were presumed to be “stereotype threat” (see Steele, 1997; Steeleacademically underprepared. Therefore, their & Aronson, 1995). Stereotypes are especiallyWhite peers picked them last (if at all) for harmful when students internalize and agonizegroup projects, and professors were surprised over them; those who identify most closely with(and sometimes skeptical) when they did well academic achievement are especially vulnerable toon assignments. Even those with near-perfect stereotype threat (Steele, 1997; Taylor & Antony,high school and college GPAs talked about 2001). Most participants in the national study 13
  16. 16. Samuel Z. AlemayehuB.S., Stanford University, 2008M.S., Stanford University, 2008CEO and Chairman, 4AMTMobile Technologies Inc., thelargest mobile services companyin 22 African countries
  17. 17. Additional FindingsPresented in this section are short responses to eight questions readers may have about the Black male achievers who participated in this study. Each response willbe explained in greater detail in my forthcoming book, Exceeding Expectations: How Black Male Students Succeed in College. What was the most surprising What differentiated the achievers high expectations, an influential teacher, access finding? from their Black male peers? to a college preparatory program, a peer mentor who shared the secrets of success, Most surprising and most disappointing is that Participants did not deem themselves superior or life-changing opportunities to travel or nearly every student interviewed said it was the to or smarter than their less accomplished, establish meaningful relationships with college- first time someone had sat him down to ask how disengaged same-race male peers. In fact, educated adults who possessed tremendous he successfully navigated his way to and through most believed lower-performing Black male social capital].” The achievers thought it was higher education, what compelled him to be students had the same potential, but had unfortunate that more Black men in their home engaged in student organizations and college not encountered people or culturally relevant communities and on their college campuses classrooms, and what he learned that could help experiences that motivated them had missed these same opportunities. In many improve achievement and engagement among to be engaged, strive for academic success, instances, they claimed it was serendipity, not Black male collegians. As noted earlier, 219 and persist through baccalaureate degree aptitude, that largely determined which Black of the 221 men who were nominated for this attainment. In many interviews, achievers men succeeded. study agreed to participate; this alone confirms asserted, “The only thing that makes me that achievers are willing to share insights into different from them is that I was lucky enough success if they are invited to do so. to have [parents who maintained invariablyAnd the First Ph.D. Goes to…Cullen Buie, The Ohio State UniversityAs an undergraduate student at Ohio State, Cullen Buie was president of the National Society of Black Engineers, academic excellencechair for Lambda Psi honor society, a peer mentor for the Office of Minority Affairs, a founding member of the Association of BlackLeaders for Entrepreneurship, a new student orientation leader, and the student representative on several university committees. Hespent his summers interning with Polaroid, Proctor & Gamble, and Dow Chemicals, and participated in a research exchange program inBrazil during the fall term of his senior year. Moreover, he devoted many hours to doing research with Dr. Gregory Washington, a Blackmale professor in the OSU College of Engineering. Cullen now spends his time studying microfluidics, microbial fuel cells, and biofuels;his research has been published in scholarly venues such as the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer and the Journal of theElectrochemical Society. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Cullen accepted a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow-ship that paid for his pursuit of a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Though several others arepresently enrolled in graduate programs, Cullen was first of the 219 participants in the National Black Male College Achievement Studyto earn a doctorate. After attaining his Ph.D., Dr. Buie began a tenure-track faculty position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Professor Buie now holds an endowed chair at MIT, where he teaches, mentors students, and does research. 15
  18. 18. What about structured mentoring Phi Theta. A few campuses, particularly the liberal programs? arts colleges, had no Black fraternities; this partially explains why there were not more fraternity men in Several participants were involved in structured the sample. However, the majority of participating mentoring programs sponsored by Boys & Girls colleges and universities had two or more active Clubs of America, the YMCA, alumni chapters of NPHC fraternity chapters. Given their espoused historically black fraternities and sororities, and purposes (scholarship, achievement, leadership, other entities before they went to college. However, brotherhood, community service, etc.), it seems that none said anything about their postsecondary the fraternities should have been ideal engagement institutions’ structured mentoring programs as they venues for men such as those who participated in named people, experiences, and resources that aided the National Black Male College Achievement Study. their college success. Put differently, no participant But several students thought their time and talents attributed even a fraction of his college achievement were better invested elsewhere. Many felt that to a program that systematically matched him the current members’ behaviors contradicted the with faculty, staff, or peers with whom he was to purported principles of their fraternities. For example,Chaney Goes to the NBA routinely meet. Instead, they reflected mostly on a participant at Purdue University noted that each NPHC fraternity had a cumulative chapter GPA below relationships they cultivated with professors andChris Chaney, Princeton University high-level administrators (for example, the university 2.7; his was 3.78. Others believed they could developChris Chaney loves sports, especially basketball. When he president or dean of students) through engagement their leadership skills or do community servicewas not engaged in planning the annual Princeton Univer- in clubs and enriching educational experiences. through one of the several hundred other clubssity State of Black Men in America Conference, developing and organizations on campus. Most unattractive Student leadership positions gave these men accesshis communication and leadership skills alongside others to campus officials on whom they could rely for were reports of physical hazing. When asked, “Whyin the Black Men’s Awareness Group, or working hard to advice, recommendation letters, advocacy, and haven’t you joined one of the Black fraternitieskeep his GPA above 3.0, much of what was left of Chris’stime was devoted to sports. The Princeton Varsity Club insider knowledge about institutional policies and on campus?” the overwhelming majority of non-presented him its Distinguished Undergraduate Athletic procedural loopholes. Such people became mentors members responded that they had no interest inService Award as well as the Spirit of Princeton Award for to the participants, but the relationships were not being hazed.his contributions to the University community. Chris did fostered via a matching service coordinated by annot aspire to become a professional athlete, but instead office on campus. Furthermore, students who hadfocused his career ambitions on the business side of sports. done collaborative research, service learning, or Were they religious or spiritual?As an undergraduate student, he founded and later be- study abroad trips with faculty spoke extensivelycame executive director of The Ivy Sports Symposium, an about how those instructors played mentoring roles Nearly all were Christians; three were Muslims.annual sports business conference that rotates among Ivy in their lives. Working closely on educationally Two participants were ordained ministers, someLeague schools. Immediately after graduating from Princ- purposeful tasks outside the classroom afforded the were sons of pastors, a few sang in their colleges’eton, he accepted a full-time job in Global Marketing Part- educators and achievers substantive opportunities to gospel choirs, and others led weekly bible study fornerships at the National Basketball Association, where heworked with clients such as Coca-Cola and Nike. This role learn about each other, which added value to the their peers on campus. The majority of achieversat the NBA inspired Chris to launch Chaney Sports Group students’ achievement trajectories in myriad ways. attended church during their time in college,(now Chaney Sportainment Group), a boutique sports and though doing so was difficult amid their academicentertainment agency of which he now serves as president and campus leadership commitments. While theirand chief executive officer. His internationally focused How many were in Historically religious engagement sometimes wavered, mostagency engages in a broad range of corporate consulting Black Fraternities? participants said they prayed often and had becomeprojects, including sports mergers and acquisitions, mer- noticeably more spiritual in college. One of thechandising and licensing, marketing strategy, and sponsor- Sixty-five of the 219 achievers (29.7%) held most interesting findings in the study pertains toship sales. Chris presently resides in Germany, though his membership in one of the five National Pan-Hellenic attribution for their success. Several achievers hadwork takes him all around the world. In December 2011, Council (NPHC) fraternities—Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa what I have termed a spiritual locus of control,Forbes magazine named him one of the top 30 entertain- Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, or Iota meaning they believed their lives, academicment executives under the age of 30. 16