What Role Does the Race of Professors Have on the Retention of Students Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

By Hickson, MaryEllen Geri | Education, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

What Role Does the Race of Professors Have on the Retention of Students Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities?


Hickson, MaryEllen Geri, Education


Introduction

During the late fall of 2001; a survey of 250 students attending a Historically Black University in Texas was conducted. The purpose of the survey was to identify how many students had a mentor and how many felt it necessary to have an African American professor as a mentor for their success and retention. As a result of the survey, it was clear that the majority of students felt that it was important to have a mentor; however the overwhelming majority did not feel that it was important for their professor mentor to be of the same race. Most students felt that it was more important to have a professor, regardless of race, who cares about their future and who is interested in their education.

Based on the results of this survey, it is imperative that the immediate goals of historically black colleges and universities should be to (1) hire quality, dedicated faculty to teach at HBCUs, regardless of race, and (2) put in place a measure to ensure that faculty is aggressively involved in student mentorship. If this is done, mentorship for students will be the outcome and retention can be improved.

This article provides information regarding questions and responses to questions asked in the survey discuss implications, and conclude with recommendations based on the study. Two of the goals of the research are to show how faculty mentorship and student retention at Historically Black Colleges and Universities can be enhanced.

The Study

The participants in the study included 250 African American students. 134 students were freshmen, 30 students were sophomores, 29 juniors, and 57 seniors. All students were full-time and between the ages of 17 and 24.

Questions asked on the survey were directly related to:

(1) the student's need for a student to have a mentor;

(2) the need for a college professor to be a mentor; and

(3) the need for a college professor to be of the same race.

The questions were as follows:

ANSWER YES OR NO TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

Q1: IS IT IMPORTANT FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS TO HAVE A MENTOR?

Q2: SHOULD A COLLEGE STUDENT'S MENTOR BE OF THE SAME RACE?

Q3: DO YOU CONSIDER AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSORS A MENTOR?

Q4: IS THE PROFESSOR WHO IS YOUR MENTOR OF YOUR RACE?

Q5: DOES HAVING A PROFESSOR ON CAMPUS AS A MENTOR INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF COMPLETING COLLEGE?

Q6: IS IT MORE IMPORTANT FOR YOUR PROFESSOR TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN YOU THAN FOR THE PROFESSOR TO BE OF THE SAME RACE?

Q7: WOULD YOU PREFER THAT YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSOR MENTOR IS OF THE SAME RACE?

Q8: SHOULD ONE OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROFESSOR BE THAT THEY MENTOR STUDENTS ?

The results of the survey were as follows:

1. 88% felt it is important for college students to have a mentor?

2. 0.12% felt that college professor mentors should be of the same race?

3. 55% considers at least one of their college professors a mentor?

4. 53% indicated that the professor who is their mentor is of the same race?

5. 73% indicated that having a professor on campus as a mentor increases their chances of completing college?

6. 75% felt that it is more important for their professor to have an interest in them than for the professor to be of the same race?

7. 40% said that they would prefer if their college professor mentor were of the same race?

8. 75% stated that one of the responsibilities of a professor should be to mentor students.

What does mentorship have to do with retention? In my opinion--everything! If students respect and find a guide, MENTOR, and sometimes friend in a professor, this would certainly increase RETENTION. Professors would have a direct influence on the student's future. …

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