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About the Summit

About the Summit

The Regional HBCU Summit on Retention provides opportunities for faculty, students, and other members of the community to discuss strategies needed to increase retention and the number of minority students in higher education.

Session topics include:

  • Online Teaching and Learning
  • Diversity and Inclusive Teaching
  • Students with Disabilities
  • Encouraging Students to Enter STEM Disciplines
  • Military Veterans in the Classroom
  • The Role of HBCUs and Other Minority Serving Institutions

Purpose of the Summit

The purpose of the Summit is to provide opportunities for representatives of all groups concerned about the persistence of African American and other minority students in higher education to come together to:

  • Address the problem of retention of African American students in colleges and universities
  • Celebrate successful retention programs in higher education
  • Propose action plans to increase the persistence of African American students in higher education

Long-Term Approaches to Student Retention

Maximum improvement in retention performance requires implementation of programs that lead to long-lasting campus culture changes. The best retention programs have the following characteristics:

Highly structured   
The institution views itself as responsible for creating a success structure rather than merely retaining a reactive sink-or-swim philosophy.

Extended, intensive contact with students who are most likely to drop out    
For these students retention is a one-on-one activity, and results are predicated on a personal relationship.

Interlocks with other programs and services   
For example, academic advising should be woven into the fabric of a required freshman success course.

A strategy of engagement   
Students are brought into situations in which the risk of participation is reduced. That is, the faculty or staff member takes the initiative to reach out to bring the student into the fold rather than assume a passive stance that offers students the opportunity to participate.

Qualified staff    
Qualifications go far beyond credentials for a position to include attitude and ability to build relationships. There is increased emphasis on the importance of a student-centered environment everywhere on campus.

A critical role for faculty members    
It is extraordinarily important to have rewards and recognition in place for excellent teaching. A single "Teacher of the Year" award is too unattainable and further sends a message that great teaching, especially in the freshman classroom, is nice but not necessary. Ultimately the tenure and promotion criteria established and adhered to are the determiners of whether intense energy is devoted to becoming a great teacher in the freshman classroom.

A focus on the affective as well as cognitive needs of students    
Far too little attention is usually paid to how students are coping: whether they are getting connected to the new environment or feeling lost, confused, or overwhelmed. Attention to the individual needs of students can set them on a course for success.

Improving retention means change, which never comes easily.  Following are some tips for getting started with the change process.

  1. Establish a retention task force, even if the campus already has a retention coordinator.
  2. Carefully select the person to head the retention task force.
  3. Make sure the task force spends a minimum amount of time studying the issue despite the natural tendency to want to explore every potential alternative.
  4. Establish a readiness to accept change across the campus by promoting a widespread understanding of what retention is and what it is not.
  5. Go for big gains.
  6. Celebrate successes!