A National Model for Black Male Recruitment

CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has announced the completion of a task force report on the University’s Black Male Initiative that makes recommendations on how the University system can take an active role in recruiting, retaining and graduating black men and helping them make advances in their lives.

“The University must now assume a leadership role in this national concern and use its human and institutional resources to effect meaningful changes in the immediate future,” Goldstein said today in a letter to CUNY’s Board of Trustees and college presidents. “As the largest public urban university in the country, CUNY has a responsibility to focus public awareness on the complexity of life for black males.”

The task force initiative, which was developed from a pilot program at Medgar Evers College, focuses on five areas where the University system can make a difference: K-12 education, higher education, criminal justice, employment and social relations.

Noting that a “complex interplay” of circumstances created by society has prevented young black men in America from completing the higher education that would lead to career success, the task force says that they “must be nurtured socially, emotionally, psychologically and educationally from elementary school onward.”

Companies, especially those headed by CUNY alumni, would be encouraged under task for recommendations to recruit black men and would be urged to offer tuition-reimbursement plans and promote career opportunities. CUNY’s continuing-education programs, adult literacy programs for educationally disadvantaged students and various training programs also would be used as part of this effort. “CUNY should encourage contractors to hire a diverse workforce that includes black males throughout all levels of its workforce and work within the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to ensure employment for black males on capital projects,” according to the task force report.

Calling teachers the “linchpin of student success,” the task force recommends that “every effort be made to ensure that the faculty and staff of the University’s teacher-preparation programs understand, respect and utilize pedagogies that are responsive to the distinctive experiences of black males” and that the University’s resources be used to improve employment prospects for these students.

CUNY secured funding for the Black Male Initiative from the City Council earlier this year, and Goldstein has endorsed several projects.

They are:

Positioning the University as a “moral voice” by having it express its views in op-ed pieces, articles and speeches by the chancellor and others in leadership positions.

Sponsoring a major conference by spring 2006.

Creating a self-sustaining institute that would direct the implementation of the task force’s recommendations, produce research and reach out to the community by holding symposia and conferences.

Identifying effective recruitment and retention initiatives at the campuses that could be rolled out University-wide.

Increasing the pool of college-bound black males. In the short term, this would be done by developing better ways of attracting capable students, drawing on CUNY’s College Now and CUNY Prep programs and by actively recruiting high school students. In the long term, it would be accomplished by training teachers in urban schools.

Helping to advance minority involvement in CUNY’s capital projects.

Capitalizing on work done at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to support the re-entry into society of former jail inmates through job placement and workforce training and increasing the number of black men participating in CUNY’s GED and adult-education programs. Such moves, according to the task force, would “provide an optimistic future for young black males.”

Jay Hershenson: 212.794.5317
Michael Arena: 212.794.5685