New data shows that nationwide 38 percent of Black men who enter four-year colleges graduate from the same institution within a six-year period. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the average Black male graduation rate over the past four years is even lower at 29 percent. But The Black Male Excellence Network at the University of Alabama Birmingham is aiming to greatly improve the university’s performance.
Black men who have joined the network now graduate at a rate of 57 percent, almost twice the four-year average graduation rate for Black men as a whole at the university. The network provides Black men with mentors and includes programs that allows students to “affirm their cultural identities.” Participants attend a weekly seminar and are instructed to strive for the “Five Wells,” developed by Robert Franklin of Morehouse College: Well-Spoken, Well-Eead, Well-Dressed, Well-Traveled, and Well-Balanced.
The program is led by Michael Brooks, an associate professor of counselor education at the university. Dr. Brooks is a graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in counselor education from the University of Central Florida.
When the program started in 2007, 27 Black male students joined the effort. Fifteen of those students have graduated and the remaining six are on track to receive their degrees. This year, there are 230 Black male students enrolled in the program, including 60 freshmen.