University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative Convenes to Mark 10thAnniversary

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Nearly 300 conferees will commemorate 10thyear of improving educational outcomes for black males

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sept. 27, 2012) — The University System of Georgia’s (USG) nationally recognized program aimed at enhancing the recruitment, retention and graduation of black males within the state’s public colleges and universities  — the USG’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) — will hold a 10th Anniversary Conference to mark the decade of work that has been conducted through the statewide initiative.  The convening will take place at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 27-29.  

The University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI), which is housed at Kennesaw State University,  was launched in September 2002 as an initiative of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.  To mark the project’s 10th anniversary, nearly 300 AAMI student participants and program administrators, along with notable dignitaries and guest speakers, will gather for three days of meetings, plenary sessions, workshops and recognition activities aimed at enhancing educational outcomes for Georgia’s African-American male students. The conference – which kicked off with an invitational “Donors’ Briefing” on Thursday to introduce AAMI to an expanded network of philanthropic organizations – is designed to share outcomes, recognize best-practice programs, and honor individuals who contribute to the initiative’s success.  

“We’ve assembled an extremely impressive group of leaders – scholars, authors and entrepreneurs – to help mark this momentous milestone,” said AAMI Project Director Arlethia Perry-Johnson, who also serves as vice president of external affairs at Kennesaw State University.  “Over the past 10 years, AAMI has been an impetus for dramatically increasing the number of African-American males matriculating at USG colleges and universities.  This conference will allow us to take stock of the impact this initiative has had, share our outcomes and experiences, and outline our future strategic directions.” 

The following plenary speakers are featured at the conference:

  • Tina Gridiron Smith, program officer for the Lumina Foundation for Education, specializes in removing barriers to college for minority and under-served students. She currently manages a portfolio of grants that includes over 50 projects designed to support higher education leadership; improve postsecondary preparation, access and attainment for all students; and increase the educational success of men of color, foster youth and other vulnerable populations. Smith will serve as the keynote speaker for the conference’s Opening Plenary session, slated for Friday, Sept. 28, from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m.
  • Will Packer, one of Variety’s10 Producers to Watch,” is chairman of Rainforest Films and producer of several recent films, including “Stomp the Yard,” “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” and “Takers.” Packer will speak Friday, Sept. 28, on the Luncheon Plenary, slated for noon to 1:30 p.m.
  • William C. Rhoden, an award-winning New York Times columnist and sports writer, is a bestselling author of “Forty Million Dollar Slave” and “Third and A Mile: The Trials and Triumphs of The Black Quarterback.”Rhoden will be the keynote speaker for the Awards and Recognition Banquet, Friday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m.  Following the banquet, Rhoden also will host theAAMI Open Forum for Black Males, from 9:15 to 10:45 p.m.
  • Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, was named one of Time magazine's “100 Most Influential People in the World “in 2012.  He is a co-founder of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, a national model for attracting high-achieving minority students to pursue advanced degrees and research careers in science and engineering.Hrabowski will be the keynote speaker for the conference’s Morning Plenary on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 9 a.m.
  • Randal Pinkett,chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, scholar and author, holds five academic degrees in electrical engineering and business from Rutgers University, the University of Oxford in England and a Ph.D.
    from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In August, Pinkett and his business partners were awarded
    federal contracts of up to $21 billion over the next 10 years to provide healthcare technology solutions for t
    wo U.S. agencies. He was the season four winner of NBC’s The Apprentice. Pinkett is the keynote speaker
    for the conference’s Closing Luncheon Plenary, slated for Saturday, Sept. 29, at noon.

Throughout the conference, participants will discuss the practices and approaches that are helping AAMI programs operating at USG institutions deliver notable results.  AAMI achieves its goals through a wide variety of programs that foster academic achievement, including advising, tutoring, mentoring, leadership development, learning communities, and student-engagement initiatives, among other programmatic activities.

In July 2002, only three known USG programs focused on improving black males’ educational participation and outcomes. Today more than 36 such programs operate at 26 different institutions throughout the University System of Georgia – many launched and/or funded by AAMI, and others launched and sustained by USG campuses supportive of the initiative.

 “The pioneering work the USG began in 2002 in response to recommendations by the Task Force on Enhancing Access for African-American Males is now yielding significant results,” said Kennesaw State UniversityPresident Daniel S. Papp, who served as ex officio of the task force during his tenure as a senior vice chancellor at the Board of Regents.  “Since AAMI’s inception, the University System of Georgia has made significant strides in addressing the educational challenges Black males face in attending college, and these outcomes hold promise for more improvements.”

Since AAMI’s inception, black male enrollment in the University System of Georgia has increased more than 80 percent, from 17,068 students in fall 2002, to 30,847 in fall 2011 — an increase of 13,779 black male students. The six-year graduation rate (the national benchmark) for USG African-American, first-time freshmen is seeing an impressive gain as well. The graduation rate for the cohort of black male freshmen that entered in fall 1997 — the cohort of students who entered before the launch of AAMI — was 28.95 percent. The six-year graduation rate for the fall 2005 cohort, which graduated by spring 2011, had risen to 40.35 percent — an 11.4 percent increase. Perhaps most importantly, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred annually to African-American males at USG institutions has jumped by 58.11 percent, from 1,294 Black male students awarded bachelor’s degrees in fiscal year 2003, to 2,046 students awarded degrees in fiscal year 2011— an increase of 752 additional bachelor’s degrees being awarded annually to Black male students.

In July 2006, the Indiana-based Lumina Foundation for Education’s McCabe Fund awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant to AAMI, enabling a stronger partnership with the USG’s Office of Strategic Research and Policy Analysis and a dedicated research assistant to work directly with that office on the program’s data analysis.  In 2009, the Lumina Foundation awarded AAMI a second grant to the project, for $500,000 over two years, allowing the project to increase the number of campuses engaged in the initiative and to foster partnerships with others conducting leading work related to AAMI’s goals.

With the permission of the chancellor of the University System of Georgia and strong support from then recently appointed KSU President Papp, AAMI moved its home in October 2006 from the Board of Regents’ offices in Atlanta to the campus of Kennesaw State University, when Perry-Johnson joined the KSU administration.  The program now is housed in Kennesaw State’s Division of External Affairs, which Perry-Johnson heads.

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FOR MORE CONFERENCE DETAILS, please visit: http://www.usg.edu/aami/bestpractices12/

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE USG’s AAMI, please visit: http://www.usg.edu/aami