NASPA Online Learning Community

Welcoming Ain’t Belonging: Validation and Mattering for Men of Color

Recorded On: 11/07/2023

Patrick TURNER

Associate Vice President-Student Academic Success

New Mexico State University

Dr. Patrick TURNER has over 25 years of working in higher education, specializing in academic affairs, student support services, faculty development, curricula analytics, and student engagement.  Patrick serves as the Associate Vice President of Student Academic Success and Coordinator of the Men of Color Initiative at New Mexico State University. He holds a bachelor's degree in Public Administration, a master’s degree in Human Resource Development, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership-Curriculum and Instruction. The VP collaborates with the Provost, Deans, Department Heads, Student Affairs, diversity programs, two-year colleges, and local high schools to address social justice issues and educational access.  With a research focus on the first-year experience, student retention, persistence, and academic success, his work investigates institutional factors that support or act as a barrier to students' academic and social integration, particularly those from underrepresented, marginalized, and minoritized populations. Three years ago, Dr. Turner established the Men of Color Initiative at New Mexico State University, which takes an asset-based approach to developing and engaging the intersecting identities of our male students. Additionally, he leads NMSU efforts on Curricular Analytics and serves as a professional mentor for Complete College American (CCA) leadership academy for Predominantly Black and Historically Black Community Colleges (PBI/HBCU).

The qualitative case study explored the factors that foster an atmosphere of belonging for men of color (MOC) attending a two-year Predominantly White Institution (PWI). The pressing issue is that PWI colleges erroneously assume that an extension or invitation of welcome is the same as fostering a sense of belonging for men of color (MOC). This led colleges to construct policies and practices that do not intentionally and deliberately create an atmosphere where MOC feel valued, validated, and visible. According to Maestas, Vaquera, and Zehr (2007), fostering a sense of belonging is paramount to retaining and graduating students of color. The study surfaced three central themes: (a) experiencing an atmosphere of welcome, (b) desire for cultural representation and celebration, and (c) the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training. Though most colleges boast of creating a sense of belonging, the National Center for Education Statistics (2019) reports that 25% of men of color graduate from a community college within 150 % or three years of normal time. Additionally, the Community College Survey of Men (CCSM) reports a need for more validation, engagement, and a high attrition rate for men of color attending these institutions ( Harris & Wood, 2013 ). This can be problematic, considering that most men of color began their academic journey by attending  two-year colleges. Community and two-year colleges are critical to the educational system and positioned to improve access and equity for students of color, particularly males (Bailey, Jaggars, & Jenkins, 2015).

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