SU program increases male student retention

A Southern University System program designed to reverse the trend of fewer Black male students attending and graduating from college is demonstrating higher than average success in student retention.

Implemented in 2012 and located on the Southern University New Orleans  campus, the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (CUSA) is the centerpiece initiative of the Five-Fifths Agenda for America (FFAA), a demonstration project with the dual goals of increasing the number of college degrees among black men and increasing the ranks of black male classroom teachers.

Data from a recent internal SU System CUSA enrollment and retention status report indicates that the Honoré Center program is associated with an increase in fall-to-fall retention in a range of 25 percent to 46 percent.   Of the 30 total students who completed at least one semester after enrolling in the Honoré Center over the past three academic years, 12 remain actively enrolled in the program and another 12 students remain enrolled at SUNO in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Those numbers represent a 40 percent program retention rate, however overall retention rises to 80 percent when including former cohort members still enrolled at SUNO.

“Not only are Honoré participants being retained in school at a higher rate then comparable students at peer institutions in Louisiana, they are making faster progress towards earning bachelors degrees. All of the Honoré students remaining in school are on pace to earn degrees in six years or less,” said CUSA director Warren Bell Jr.

The  goal  of  the  FFAA  national  initiative  is  to  “identify  and  enable  young  Black  men  from  the  bottom  quartile  with  character  and  leadership  potential  to  become  educators  and  servant  leaders  who  will  seed  positive  change  in  their  schools  and  communities.  A  value-‐added  goal  is  to  establish  public  Historically  Black  Colleges  and  Universities  as  institutional  bases  for  long-‐term  systemic  change,”  said  FFAA  founder  and  SU  System  President  Ronald  Mason  Jr.

Bell  said  the  Honoré  program reached  a  milestone  in  April when two  original  cohort  members,  third year  students  Louis  Blackmon  and  Dominique  Carter,  earned  Honor  Roll  recognition  during  SUNO’s  Spring  2015  Academic  Honors  and  Awards  ceremony.  

Honoré  Center  for  Undergraduate  Student  Achievement  (CUSA)  students  Louis  Blackmon  (right)  and  Dominique  Carter  (left)  pictured  with  CUSA  director  Warren  Bell  Jr.  after  receiving  honor  roll  recognition  during  SUNO’s  Spring  2015  Academic  Honors  and  Awards  Day  Program,  April  8,  2015

 About  the Honoré  CUSA
 The  state  of  Louisiana  in  2012  awarded  the  Southern  University  System  a  half  million  dollars  in  funding  to  plan  and  implement  an  initiative  designed  to  address  an  important  national  challenge:    to  reverse  the  trend  of  fewer  African-‐American  male  students  attending  and  graduating  from  college.    Named  for  retired  US  Army  Lieutenant  General  Russel  L.  Honoré  who  led  all  active-duty  troops  from  all  military  branches  for  the  storm  recovery  operations  following  Hurricane  Katrina’s  destruction  of  the  Gulf  Coast  in  2005,  the  Center  recruits  New  Orleans-‐area  male  students  into  a  highly  structured  living  and learning  environment  designed  to  ensure  their  academic  and  personal  success  as  college  men  and  future  leaders.    All  Honoré  scholars  promise  to  serve  at  least  two  years  after  graduation  as  local  classroom  teachers.  They  agree  to  rigorous  rules  of  conduct  and  performance.    The  State  of  Louisiana  provided  a  total  $1-million  to  support  the  Honoré  Center.  In  addition  to  Louisiana  Legislative  start-‐up  support,  the  project  is  endorsed  and  receiving  further  support  to  continue  its  operations  through  private  donors  and  philanthropic  organizations  including  the  Thurgood  Marshall  College  Fund,  the  Open  Society  Foundation,  Educational  Testing  Services  plus  the  Kellogg,  Lumina,  and  Kresge  foundations.  CUSA  will  move  ahead  as  a  project  that  is  completely  underwritten  in  FY2016  by  private  and  foundation  dollars.    For  more  information: