Pitt Plans Symposium on Retention of Underrepresented Student Populations

Issue Date: 
June 8, 2009

classroom Exploring methods for closing the achievement gap for underrepresented students and boosting retention rates is the focus of a University of Pittsburgh symposium titled “African American Student Retention: Promising Practices for Success.”

The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. June 9 in Pitt’s University Club. The Universitywide event is being presented by the School of Arts and Sciences Academic Resource Center (ARC).

The symposium will seek to refine the University’s existing retention strategies while building on the strengths of an already diverse academic community, according to Juan Manfredi, associate dean of undergraduate studies in Arts and Sciences.

“The University of Pittsburgh continues to work to create an inclusive atmosphere with many opportunities in mentoring and advising,” said Manfredi. “We look to build on the history of successes by our alumni, faculty, and staff from underrepresented populations by offering our current and future students an exceptional educational experience.”

The event’s keynote address will be delivered by Terrell Strayhorn, a professor of higher education in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and director of the Center for Higher Education Research and Policy. His research focuses on the study of inequality in education based on race, gender, and social class as well as the social-psychological impact of college on students.

Strayhorn’s work has been published in The Journal of Higher Education, the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals (NASAP) Journal, and the Journal of College Student Development. He has received numerous honors and distinctions, including the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Grant from the National Science Foundation, the 2006 Emerging Scholar Award from the American College Personnel Association, and the Benjamin L. Perry Professional Service Award from NASAP.

The symposium will comprise a series of panel discussions designed to engage University faculty and staff in conversations on the best methods to maximize the opportunities of underrepresented students at Pitt. Titles of the discussions are “Maximizing Student Engagement,” “Critical Ingredients for Effective Mentoring Programs,” “Academic Advising: Strategies for African American Student Success,” and “African American Millennials.”

Featured speakers from Pitt will include Paula K. Davis, assistant vice chancellor for Health Sciences Diversity in the Schools of the Health Sciences; Deborah Walker, student conduct officer in the Division of Student Affairs and former project director for the Reaching Inside Your Soul for Excellence Program; and Dave Hornyak, director of advising for the University Honors College.
Pitt’s ARC is an academic support facility open to all undergraduate students at the University. The center’s mission is to promote academic success through a comprehensive set of academic services, including peer-led tutoring, study-skills workshops, and supplemental advising for first-generation and low-income students.

For more information or a full schedule of events, contact Patricia McGrane, communications manager in Arts and Sciences, at 412-624-1008 or pam81@pitt.edu.