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onCampus--Ohio State's faculty/staff news

Vol. 38, No. 18

By: Joni Bentz Seal

African American Male Resource Center offers support through graduation

A new initiative in the Office of Minority Affairs is helping African American males find their way to college and supporting them on their journey to graduation once they get here.

The African American Male Resource Center, located in Mount Hall on west campus, caters to the nearly 1,200 African American male students at Ohio State, connecting them with resources around campus and preparing them to be leaders both in the classroom and beyond.

“Our recruitment and support efforts are focused on letting this segment of the population — many of whom have grown up without male role models — know that they can enter college on merits other than athleticism, graduate, and have a major impact on our society,” said Eric Troy, program coordinator and manager of public relations and special projects for the Office of Minority Affairs.

The center’s main priority is directing students to the areas and offices around the university that can assist them in their educational needs, including financial aid, housing relations, academic support, and professional and career development. The goal, Troy said, is to assist them with being comfortable and successful in the classroom so they are more likely to stay enrolled.

With its theme “Preparing Young Men for Leadership,” the center then challenges students to reach for their potential beyond graduation by connecting them with African American mentors who personify perseverance and success.

Last November, the center hosted its first networking session to introduce black male first-year students to their faculty counterparts. The event, which attracted 60 people, intended to encourage mentor relationships between the students and faculty.

Also last fall, the center launched a series of bimonthly roundtable discussions with black leaders in a number of capacities. Guest speakers included OSU alumnus Boyce Watkins, the first African American finance professor at Syracuse University; Ohio State Alumni Association CEO and President Archie Griffin, who went from football great to leader of the third largest alumni association in the nation; and Kevin Boyce, who, at 26 years old, became the first black male on Columbus City Council. The next roundtable discussion, scheduled from
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. April 14 at the Hale Center, will feature State Sen. Ray Miller, an OSU alumnus and champion of legislation supporting African American males and the African American community at large.

“All of these men speak to the challenges and the stereotypes they overcame to graduate from college and become successful business and community leaders,” Troy said. “We want to show these kids that they are not so far removed from saying ‘That could be me.’”

Troy said the roundtable sessions have averaged 20 students who have interactively engaged with the speakers — including inquiring about internship opportunities.

“We are looking to these students to become ambassadors for the center and mentors for future underclassmen,” Troy said. “We want the center to have a track record for making things happen. We want them to tell their fellow classmates ‘When I go to the center, I get plugged in.’”

Pat Royster, special assistant to the vice provost for minority affairs who oversees the African American Male Resource Center, said the center is the embodiment of the resources and services provided through the university’s African American Male Initiative.

“Collaboration with offices like minority affairs, student affairs and the Hale Center has allowed the African American Male Initiative to create programming aimed at encouraging high school students to properly prepare for college and then apply and enroll,” Royster said. “But until now, we have not been able to provide a physical presence where these young men can turn for assistance once they arrive at Ohio State.”

The center is moving to Brown Hall on main campus this month, which Royster said will be more convenient to students and more accessible to off-campus students. “Accessibility brings awareness. Our goal is to become a place where young men can meet, socialize or just hang out,” he said. “More importantly, it’s a place where they can receive the support they need to be successful.”

Troy and Todd Bell, who passed away March 18 and was the center’s community relations coordinator and an Ohio State All American and NFL football player, also had been assisting admissions and OMA with the university’s recruiting efforts by visiting area high schools and those in targeted minority markets, such as Akron, Cincinnati, Houston and Atlanta, meeting with students, parents and guidance counselors.

According to Troy, the African American Male Resource Center is the only one of its kind among Division I schools, which gives Ohio State an edge in attracting students from this particular population segment. “Once again, Ohio State has the potential to set the bar on recruiting African American males and providing the resources to ensure they graduate, not only in a timely fashion, but with definite goals in mind,” he said. “But our biggest and loudest message to these kids isn’t to come to Ohio State. It’s to go to college, period.”

Troy paid tribute to Bell for being instrumental in building a solid foundation for the center — by meeting with students, coordinating community events and mentoring African American male elementary, middle and high school students. “Todd will be greatly missed,” Troy said. “His legacy will live on through the seeds that he planted with so many black males not only at Ohio State and in the community, but throughout the country.”

With a background in marketing, Troy was instrumental in the creation of a recruitment DVD — a collaboration between admissions and OMA — that will be used to attract more minority students to Ohio State. The video features 10 African American students from various parts of the country who share why they chose Ohio State and what their experience has been like.

For more information on the services and programming of the African American Male Resource Center or to become a member or guest speaker, contact Troy at troy.11@osu.edu or 688-3704.

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