American Alumni Chapter (UWMAAA) and the Milwaukee Center for Leadership Development (MCLD) recently announced that it has partnered to provide solutions for dealing with the low enrollment and the poor retention of African American students.
Over the past few years, while UW- Milwaukee has seen a very slight increase in its enrollment of African American students; the numbers remain low. Moreover, the initial enrollment of the majority of these students is in remedial courses.
According to the UW-Milwaukee 2005 Fact Book, the total number of new freshmen was 6075 and 578 were African-American. Of the 578 freshmen (new and transferred), 361 or 62% were enrolled in the Academic Opportunity Center (AOC), which provides remedial instruction for incoming students.
While studies have shown that a mere 24% of African Americans graduate from college each year, they also state that it is far less likely that completion will occur for students who must enroll in remedial courses. At this past spring 2011 UW-Milwaukee graduation, only 46 undergraduate degrees were conferred for African- Americans, which amounts to an 8% graduation rate.
The UWMAAA and the MCLD are committed to providing college preparatory courses, social and academic, in an effort to increase the number of African American students going to and graduating on time from college. “A lack of preparation and retention are at the core of the problem,” says Tamiko Jordan-Obregon, the executive director of the MCLD and UW-Milwaukee alumnae. “Our young people are not succeeding in college because they are unprepared academically and socially.”
The UWMAAA will begin offering tutoring and support services this coming fall semester. “We had to modify our mission,” says Peter Robinson, President of the UWMAAA, “to appropriately serve the future generation. Typically, alumni associations engage in “friendraising” in support of the university; however, it is clear to us that we need to concentrate our efforts first, on retention or we will have fewer alumni to engage.”
The MCLD is based on the youth development model of the CLD of Indianapolis, which has established a 34-year track record of empowering African American youth to excel in academics, life and their careers. By providing a variety of youth development programs, the MCLD is positioning itself to become a premier force in college access.
The partnership of the UWMAAA and the MCLD will include combined programming, support services and fundraising events. The goal is to simply prepare African American students for success in college and in life by providing experiences that help students develop personally and strengthen their academic ability.
Both Peter Robinson and Tamiko Jordan-Obregon are alumni of UW-Milwaukee. “Together, we are demonstrating a commitment not only to our alma mater, but more importantly to the young African Americans who seem to have lost hope or who simply want to succeed, but have no idea how to achieve their dreams,” says Tamiko.
Peter agrees, “this partnership is about bridging the gap between higher education and secondary education. Our young people are coming on to campus totally unprepared. UW- Milwaukee is a great school, right here in the heart of the city. More students need to take advantage of it and we will do all we can to make sure they are prepared to succeed as they do so.”