Dillard looks to raise dropping graduation rates for black men
NEW ORLEANS -- At Dillard University, a discussion is happening on how to help get African American students, primarily men, stay in school and graduate on time.
The latest numbers from the National Center For Educational Studies 35 percent of black males complete a bachelor's degree in six years or less, but in Louisiana, that number is far less.
Shaun Harper, with the University of Pennsylvania, has studied this issue. She said it's time for colleges to take some of the blame.
"What I argued in my keynote is there are institutional factors as well. There are faculty practices and other kinds of things the institution does and doesn't do to bolster student success."
Admissions counselor, Christopher Stewart, has seen one of the factors that contribute to the low graduation rates. He said some students are not interested in what their parents or peers want them to study, thus they get bored and eventually drop out.
Dillard University is now a 100% Tobacco-Free Campus
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(New Orleans – LA) The Dillard University Board of Trustees recently approved a Tobacco-Free Policy for the University’s campus, according to Dr. Wodajo Welldaregay, Interim Chair of the School of Public Health and head of the Tobacco-Free Initiative at Dillard.
“I am really excited about this because we’ve been working on this since 2005,” Welldaregay said. “The initiative started out with three colleges Dillard, Xavier, and Grambling and eventually grew to include every college and university in Louisiana,” he added.
The tobacco-free policy, which became effective as of Jan. 1, 2014, means that the use of any tobacco product in any form (smoking or chewing) is prohibited at all times on all university property and, as well as on campus grounds. Full enforcement starts August 2014 and any member of the Dillard University community may and is expected to identify violators of the Tobacco Free campus policy. As with any University policy, supervisors will support and play an active role in the enforcement of the policy.
Welldaregay noted that, each year the University competed for funding in the form of Tobacco Control Prevention and Advocacy Grant to support our advocacy effort to become a tobacco free campus and create a “Healthy Learning, Living and Working Environment”; from the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), a program of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center and the Louisiana Public Health Institute. TFL works with Louisiana’s colleges and universities to achieve 100% tobacco-free policies such as this. Its Fresh Campus program is a student-led campaign established to facilitate the empowerment of college students to create social change on their campus by focusing efforts on tobacco-free campus policies.
Dillard has participated in the Fresh Campus Program since 2005. The University continues to use funding from the TFL grant to educate students, faculty, staff as well as visitors about the health risks of smoking and tobacco use and the University’s tobacco-free policy. Over the next six months there will be a promotional campaign to ensure that everyone on campus and visitors are aware of Dillard’s tobacco-free policy. This will include permanent signage on campus and in all university facilities, as well as cessation workshops, informational materials, banners and other campus-wide events, including “Kick-Butts” Day on March 19.
White House Names Dillard Student a 2014 HBCU All-Star
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(New Orleans) – Dillard University student Nicole Tinson, Los Angeles, Calif. was one of 75 students nationwide to be recognized by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs) as a 2014 HBCU All-Star. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are being recognized for their achievements in academics, leadership, and civic engagement. This is the first class of HBCU All-Stars to be announced by the organization.
“Engaging with the next generation of leaders who will graduate from HBCUs and go on to make meaningful contributions to society is crucial to the success of our community, our country and our global competitiveness,” said George Cooper, executive director of the WHIHBCUs. “It is a privilege to announce these 75 students who have demonstrated a commitment to both their own academic achievement and making a difference in their communities, and we look forward to working with them as partners in advancing President Obama’s college completion goal.”
Nicole Tinson, political science major and senior class president at Dillard University, was selected from 445 students who submitted completed applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation. "I am completely humbled and honored to be selected as a White House HBCU Initiative HBCU All-Star,” Tinson said. “I am proud to represent my family and most importantly my university as an ambassador. It took a lot of hard work, but I'm almost at the top... I feel it." Tinson says she is on a journey to make social change as a student leader.
Last spring, Tinson participated in the Congressional Black Caucus’ Emerging Leaders program. Fewer than two-dozen people were chosen from nearly 900 applicants for the prestigious program, which puts students in internships on Capitol Hill while they take a full slate of courses at George Washington University. Tinson has also received the 2013 Helping Others Pursue Education (HOPE) Scholarship and a fellowship the 2013 Walton-UNCF Education Reform Program.
While at Dillard, she has been active in a number of organizations and social issues including starting an NAACP chapter on campus and hosting events like “Why Your Vote Matters,” which brought political figures and media personalities to campus from New Orleans and throughout Louisiana; serving as keynote speaker for the 21st annual “Take Back the Night” event against violence; organizing a forum about racism and misogyny in hip-hop that featured academicians from across the country as well as a World Aids Day event, to name a few.
When she’s not studying or leading a campus organization, Tinson spends much of her time doing community service. After Hurricane Isaac virtually destroyed much of Plaquemines Parish, she traveled to the rural community with a group of peers to help a man gut out his house and she spent her Thanksgiving holiday feeding the hungry at a homeless shelter in New Orleans.
According to the announcement from the WHIHBCUs, over the course of the next year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative by providing outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource. Through social media and their relationships with community-based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential. In addition, the 45 female and 30 male All-Stars will participate in regional events and web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the WHIHBCUs, other Initiative staff and professionals from a wide range of disciplines. They will also have opportunities to engage with other scholars to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.
Recently there has been considerable buzz about the White House Summit with college and university leaders. This group met to discuss ways to increase the entrance and success of low income students in college. The event was dominated by schools deemed the best in the nation, those with the strongest students, lots of money and influence, and great rankings. In many ways that makes perfect sense. The actions of higher education’s elite institutions command media attention that ensures this important topic becomes part of the nation’s agenda.
The frank discussions about college access and success of low-income students also allow the nation to confront reality. A 2011 study by the Pell Institute suggested the threat of income-based inequality in education is a key obstacle in reaching President Obama’s 2020 education goal. The facts are shocking. Bachelor’s degree attainment by age 24 for dependent students from the bottom half of the income distribution was only 12%. The same group from the top half had a rate of 58.8%.