Archive for December, 2009

The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not HAVE to do anything…not one thing – unless….

The University of Wisconsin is your largest direct and indirect employer.  If you think I am joking, put your minds back to the Thanksgiving weekend.  Recall how easily it was for each of us to cross town, or to secure a seat at a restaurant.  Think of how this town atrophies when this university goes on recess.   If the University of Wisconsin sneezes, we all catch the cold.

So the University of Wisconsin does not HAVE to do anything…unless it wants to be recognized among the premier universities by public acclaim.  It is not!!

To get there, there are a number of things that must be done.  I will not list them here.

Suffice it to say that your Board of Regents has taken the extraordinarily positive step of mandating, not simply identifying, four (4) goals to serve as the centerpiece of your diversity agenda.  You have no idea how positive that move is from that body.  The beauty of that move suggests a recognition that it is in our financial best interest to move on this agenda.

The conversation that your paper has supported/initiated/magnified must continue because this shift, that has been demanded, needs social activists.  This slow bubbling must continue.  Feed the conversation.  Encourage the discourse.  While this is occurring at one level, there must be the small group huddled around a table in a backroom somewhere, discussing the strategy of inclusive excellence.

These are two separate but related paths (financial & social).

Remember you can always remain status quo.  You are a pretty good Midwestern university, doing pretty good research, with an okay football team, and a fair basketball team settled in a cold, but beautiful state.

But if you want to be “top tier” you have some work to do…and your Board of Regents seems to be demanding “top tier” right now.     

Good Luck.


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Dissertation Abstract




Algernon Arthur David Felice

            Despite years of tremendous effort the African American (AA) population continues to be heavily represented with the lowest strata in society vis-à-vis economic advancement, social advancement, home and business ownership, average salary, et cetera (Census, 2000).  Many risk factors have been identified as potential contributors to the lack of social progress within this population.  These include low socioeconomic status, low paid employment, and lack of success in academic environments (Cross, 1998; Digest of Education Statistics, 2000).   Lack of success in higher education academic environments has been associated with financial insolvency, single-parenthood, low socioeconomic strata, first-generation college-bound status, and low ACT/SAT scores (Abicht, 1976; Adair, 2001).

Studies have shown that despite the presence of a number of risk factors, some AA students are successful.  Conversely, despite the presence of a number of supportive factors, middle income status, dual parent family, high ACT/SAT scores, a number of students have been shown to be unsuccessful (American Council on Education, 1986, 2000).  The current study examined a group of successful male AA sophomores at a predominantly White institution (PWI) to determine their individual and collective strategies for success within that institution.  It was felt that understanding what makes successful students successful will support both retention and recruitment efforts.

            La Fromboise, Coleman, & Gerton (1993) had posited seven bicultural competencies that they suggest support the success of AA students within PWI.  Coleman & McCubbin (1995) suggested that these bicultural competencies may be the factors that mediate between risk and success in these students.  Students who evidence these factors, therefore, should demonstrate greater levels of academic success that those who do not.  Tinto (1982, 1988, 1998) has argued that students who demonstrate successful transition from the high school to the higher education environment, have learned to release the mores of their home-familial environment and adopted those of their college-familial environment.

The Study:

Ten successful AA male sophomores were interviewed independently to ascertain what factors each employed to be successful in their current environment.  Results suggested that successful male AA students maintain very close home-familial relationships, do not invest much emotional energy in the university other than to get academic needs met, create and participate in social and culturally-centered environments, reframe negative experiences as part of the cost of success, view themselves as role models and representatives for those less-fortunate…those who did not have the opportunity, hold strong future-orientation, and maintain strong focus on “getting out with that paper.”  The bicultural competence model was not supported in this study. 


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