March 12, 2010

According to the 2006 report "Black Male Students at Public Flagship Universities in the U.S.: Status, Trends and Implications for Policy and Practice," black male college students are the least represented subgroup of students on college campuses; black males - 74.3 percent - are enrolled in college at the lowest rates when compared to white males - 86.4 percent - and black females - 80.2 percent - between the ages of 18-24; and black males comprise only 3.2 percent of the total student population at LSU, compared to 17.8 percent of the total population of Louisiana.

In an effort to combat these disheartening statistics, LSU is answering the national call to provide greater support to black male college students through the Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI. The university has established a student mentoring and leadership development program, formed a strategic planning committee and is consulting with national experts to support and bring greater awareness to the needs of black male student development.

Philip Thomas, a member of the BMLI Cohort explains, "Being apart of a group of this matter, gives me a certain prestige about myself, not because I am a member of the group, but because I know that there's countless members of the staff here at LSU that are deeply willing to commit to bringing a positive change to the black male community here on campus."

As part of the Black Male Leadership Initiative, the BMLI Cohort Program offers support through targeted programs and workshops in three critical areas - academics, leadership development and citizenship. The BMLI Cohort Program experience focuses on the development of the whole student and encourages growth in the areas that are most critical for college students.

"The LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative is an essential and vital enterprise that focuses on the success of black men at LSU, thus impacting the diversity agenda in a meaningful way," said Katrice Albert, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. "This important initiative will no doubt serve as a catalyst to empower these 'men of merit' to reach their fullest potential during their years at LSU and beyond."

The 2010 BMLI Cohort Leaders from the College of Engineering include Brian Carrington, a sophomore from Birmingham, Ala., pursuing a degree in chemical engineering; Joseph Hollins, a freshman from Baton Rouge pursuing a degree in construction management; Taylor James-Lightner a sophomore from Little Rock, Ark., pursuing a degree in chemical engineering; Jared Roussel, a sophomore from South Vacherie pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering; Phillip Thomas, a sophomore from Port Allen pursuing a degree in electrical engineering; John White, a sophomore from Chicago pursuing a degree in industrial engineering; Johnny Williams Jr., a sophomore from New Iberia pursuing a degree in electrical engineering; and Isaiah Woodson, a freshman from Richmond, Va., pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.

"Probably the easiest factor that drives me to keep going during the rough college times that we all may come across, is the fact that I am apart of the smallest percentage of represented college students across the nation, 'a black male,' explains Thomas, "So I'm truly one of a kind. LSU's BMLI gives me an opportunity not only to showcase my ability as a student, but also a means to sharpen every skill that I have to become a successful, contributing member of society."

The College of Engineering is dedicated to actively recruiting minority students. The Office of Diversity is heavily involved in a number of engineering programs throughout the college and continues to promote the value of diversity. There are many programs related to diversity and inclusiveness that engage and educate current students, staff, faculty, and corporate partners. The college also provides pre-college programs that recognize underrepresented groups.

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Article excerpted from LSU Highlights Feature, Melissa Foley, Editor, Office of Communications & University Relations. College of Engineering information submitted by Crystal Jackson, Public Relations Graduate Assistant, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu



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