The Story Behind The Summit

In 2006, Hillsborough Community College met the goal of reflecting the county’s population distribution in its student enrollment; however, the institution still faced the challenge of, as most institutions, a lack of student success in the areas of persistence, retention and graduation for all students and in particular African American and Latino males.

The trustees and administration wanted the college to focus on the student success issues involving African American and Latino males.  In order to respond to this request, college representatives began to explore the potential underlying problems that negatively impacted persistence, retention, and graduation regarding the students at Hillsborough Community College. It was  decided to seek more information from others who had similar issues and concerns.  Consequently, in 2006, the college held the first Black, Brown & College Bound Summit to ascertain if others had similar concerns and evidenced the negative student success patterns. Additionally, a panel of students from Hillsborough Community was convened so that their concerns in regards to success could be heard as well as what they thought that they needed to be successful.  At the first summit, issues were clearly defined—other higher education institutions had similar concerns and their African American and Latino males were not persisting to graduation.  Above all, institutions wanted to explore potential solutions to the lack of persistence to graduation, particularly for African American and Latino males.

In 2007, the focus of the BBCB Summit became to present strategies that other colleges were utilizing and the common successful threads that appeared in programs geared toward these young men.  Moreover in 2007, student participation increased and a student track with special speakers just for the students was established.  A student panel was again convened but included students from other colleges.  Based on the outcomes of the 2007 Summit, a focus was identified for the 2008 Summit—to expose professionals and students to some proven potential methods to alleviate the concerns and some of the issues relating to persistence, retention and graduation (student success).

As the BBCB continued its exploration and sharing of potential strategies to increase the student success of African American and Latino males, research has also begun to expand in this area.  In 2009, Saenz and Ponjuan published the article The Vanishing Latino Male in Higher Education.” The article highlighted the obvious that Latino male students were “vanishing” from the American education pipeline, a trend that is especially evident in the secondary and postsecondary levels. More specifically, profiling, stereotyping, and marginalizing African American and Latino males have had a negative and chilling effect on their academic progression in education.  Furthermore, college enrollment of African American males still lags behind that of Black women, and graduation rates for Black men are the lowest of any ethnic group, according to the Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education (2011 Supplement), a study released by the American Council on Education.  In fact, data indicate that female students, both African American and Latino, persist and graduate at higher rates than their male counter parts.

Consequently, the goals of the summit remain to provide information about successful strategies, explore mentoring programs that enable the success of the young men and to provide the latest research of the methods higher education institutions can employ to increase access, persistence, and retention and graduation rates.