City University of New York officials say they are determined to increase enrollment of black males by 25% over the next three years, shining attention on the plight of one of higher education’s most marginalized groups.
CUNY officials on Friday made public the final report of its “black male initiative” task force that Chancellor Matthew Goldstein created last year to grapple with a problem plaguing CUNY and schools across America—startling low rates of recruitment, retention, and graduation of black men.
While colleges are constantly searching for ways to attract and retain more black male students, Mr. Goldstein is looking for CUNY to take a prominent role in the national arena in solving the problem.
The report recommends that CUNY’s 19 colleges conduct a systematic review of the achievement of black male students and that the university spend money on a “post-incarceration” program for adolescents and young adults that would help released prisoners learn about CUNY. It also calls for the recruitment of black males into the university’s Teacher Academy, a special teacher education program for talented undergraduate students that is modeled on CUNY’s Honors College. The task force also recommended the establishment of an institute to carry out its proposals.
“Every campus will recognize the urgency of the problem with black men in New York City and look within itself and ask how it can make a difference,” CUNY’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, Selma Botman, told The New York Sun yesterday in a telephone interview. “What CUNY is doing differently is putting the spotlight on itself. “Written by a task force group composed of CUNY college presidents, university officials, and scholars, the report said educational opportunities for black men are hampered by the population’s high incarceration and arrest rates, low levels of employment, and racial discrimination.
While black men come to CUNY only slightly less prepared than other population groups, the report states, they drop out at alarmingly high rates. Only 74.3% of black men enrolled in CUNY baccalaureate programs return for a second year of study, while 27.1% of black men who enrolled in the fall of 1998 graduated within six years. Black males constitute about 10% of CUNY’s undergraduate student population of 190,465, about half the number of black women.