E-Net News

HBCU educators share insights on black students in higher ed

From the level of interest that many African-American male students show toward schooling, to a lack of adequate role models in high schools, leading voices from North Carolina historically black colleges and universities gathered Feb. 26 at Elon University for a panel discussion on how to address issues affecting minority participation in higher education.

Jean Rattigan-Rohr (left), an assistant professor of education at Elon, moderated the Feb. 26 roundtable discussion in the LaRose Digital Theatre.

“Black Students in Institutions of Higher Learning" was organized by Ocek Eke, an assistant professor in the School of Communications and chair of the school’s Diversity Committee, and Leon Williams, director of the Multicultural Center at the university.

Jean Rattigan-Rohr, an assistant professor in Elon’s School of Education, moderated the afternoon session inside the LaRose Digital Theatre.

Panelists' responses sometimes mixed with humorous personal anecdotes, but the remarks often gave rise to questions from students in the audience. One Elon pre-service teacher from the School of Education wanted clarity regarding “equity” and “fairness” as it related to her minority students. Another noted her concern with an African American kindergarten student who was already expressing a dislike for school.

Panelists were primarily from historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina’s Triad region. They included:

Beth Hairston - associate professor, School of Education and Human Performance (Winston-Salem State University)

Audrey Ward - Dean of Student Academic Support Services (Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.)

Gregory Hairston - director of Alumni Relations (Winston-Salem State University)

LuAnn Edmonds-Harris - associate director of Athletics (N.C. Central University in Durham, N.C.)

Rohr asked panelists to discuss issues ranging from problems with dropout rates as framed by President Barack Obama in his Feb. 2 speech to the nation to the apparent disappearance of African American men from college and university campuses.

Edmonds-Harris noted that many African-American male students begin to show serious disinterest in schools as early at the 4th grade. Ward pointed to a lack of adequate role models in the high schools, while Beth Hairston tackled the issue of low teacher expectations often experienced by many African American public school students.

The discussion concluded with a proposal to explore future cross-campus relations between Elon and HBCUs.

- Article submitted by Leon Williams, director of Elon University’s Multicultural Center

Eric Townsend,
2/27/2009 8:34 PM