Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Ready to Begin Again: Former AAHE Black Caucus Reorganizes as the Association of Blacks in Higher Education

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Ready to Begin Again: Former AAHE Black Caucus Reorganizes as the Association of Blacks in Higher Education

Article excerpt

SAVANNAH, Ga.

After more than a year of fact-finding, researching and planning, the former Black Caucus of the now-defunct American Association for Higher Education has reorganized and incorporated as the Association of Blacks in Higher Education (ABHE). During meetings held July 14 and 15, transitional board members worked to identify the issues, hammer out the group's bylaws and finalize the association's mission, vision and goals.

The AAHE dissolved in March 2005 amidst a sharp decline in membership and financial problems. Less than a year later, the organization's Hispanic caucus had formed a separate group and held its first national meeting (see Diverse, March 23). The ABHE, whose vision is to "become the premier organization to address leadership, access and vital issues concerning Blacks in higher education," has followed the same course.

ABHE board members have held two other meetings and spent several months researching other higher education groups to find a niche for their new organization. What they've found, says Dr. David Taylor, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morehouse College, is that while some campus, state and regional organizations address some of the issues that Blacks in the academy struggle with, the focus is often quite narrow. ABHE will focus on meeting the needs of a larger, more diverse community of faculty, administrators, staff and students, he says.

With far-flung board members and no institutional "home," it has been a task to bring the board together and rethink the role of the new organization, says Dr. Roland Smith Jr., chair of the transitional board and associate provost of Rice University. "The biggest challenge is to try to envision the organization in a whole new paradigm. It's not simply to expand, it's to create a new organization that helps provide a voice for the issues faced by African-Americans in higher education."

Dr. Sheila V. Baldwin, the board's vice chair for programs, says that once it became clear that AAHE would fold, the formation of a new group was inevitable. The only questions were how and when they would reorganize.

"We didn't want to step out half way," says Baldwin, a professor of English at Columbia College in Chicago. "We wanted to create a perfectly sound and solid platform."

The centerpiece of the new organization will be the already well-established Mentoring and Leadership Institute. …

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