Alarmed by the declining number of Black males seeking higher education, the Presidents’ Round Table, a group of Black community college presidents, has mobilized to tackle that crisis.
To that end, members of the Round Table participated in sessions with titles like “The Vanishing Male: Minority Males in Higher Education,” and “Ensuring Success for African American Males at Community Colleges” at the 2007 American Association of Community Colleges convention, which is being held in Tampa, Fla., through Tuesday.
The Round Table also met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in February in an effort to form a national action plan to effect a turnaround in the Black male crisis. Dr. Charles A. Taylor, the Round Table’s convener and president of Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Va., says one of his principle policy priorities is getting the Round Table engaged on that issue nationally. The Round Table consists of CEO members of the National Council on Black American Affairs, an AACC council.
Taylor says that up to now, Round Table presidents have been underutilized on a national level, noting many CBC members were “not even aware” that an organization Black CEOs of community colleges existed.
According to The Round Table’s research concerning the dwindling African- American male presence in U.S. colleges, females now make up 60 percent or more of the student body at many majority-Black colleges. Taylor says that the Round Table’s goal is to work with NAFEO and HBCUs as well as the CBC, which plans to put “together committees on dealing with the dwindling African-American male presence in higher education. We wanted to make certain that as they were moving along, that we would be a part of their process.”
“We are hearing that people are tired of talking about this issue, they really want to connect up with somebody who’s doing something,” says Dr. Jennifer Wimbish, a Round Table member and president of Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, Texas.
Taylor said that in the meeting with the CBC, “we volunteered our commitment, and gave our commitment that we would work with them, with other organizations to make certain that this is an issue that we can be a catalyst by moving forward to come up with some answers.”
Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., expressed enthusiasm in the very fact that the Round Table exists and is looking to help turn around the Black male crisis.
“What gives me heart when I meet with a group like the Presidents’ Round Table is to know that we have a group of college administrators and educators who are searching and seeking and looking for answers, looking for ways to be more effective, looking for ways to do things that have not been done,” Davis says.
“There are all kinds of opportunities, and the fact that these men and women, these academicians, these educators are tackling the tough questions and hard issues warms my heart. … I think we’re going to get a lot done.”
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