To empower Virginia Tech’s Black Men by creating academic and social community through holistic development.
As faculty, staff and alumni of Virginia Tech, we will assume institutional responsibility for Black Male student engagement. We will assist in the advancement of our Black Male students through sustained engagement, transformative leadership practices, and the sharing of resources.
The BMEN initiative is a significant university effort to increase Black Male student success and alumni engagement at Virginia Tech.
We encourage alumni to engage in this initiative by:
- signing up as mentors, resources or speakers for future programs
- providing students with access to opportunities
- engage by supporting our BMEN Fund or mobilizing others to do the same (for programs, scholarships, community service trips)
- consider developing activities that would help support the success of this initiative and our students.
In support of Virginia Tech’s commitment to academic success and achievement for all of its students, a group of students, faculty and administrators came together in the spring of 2011 to develop a coordinated, structured program that focused on the academic success of Black male undergraduates.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, there were 561 Black male undergraduates at Virginia Tech. Given the young men’s academic entry characteristics (SAT & high school GPA), the students were not performing as well as might be expected. While one-third of the Black male undergraduates maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, about 10%-percent were on academic probation, and an additional 15% were considered at-risk academically, with GPAs in the 2.00-2.30 range.
This was the beginning of Virginia Tech’s Black Male Achievement Initiative; a campus-wide effort that was born and nurtured in the Student Success Center.
Over the years, the name of this outreach and support effort has evolved from the Black Male Achievement Initiative to Students Working to Achieve Goals and Graduation (VT SWAGG) to The Black Male Excellence Network (BMEN).
Over the years, support, enrichment and engagement for Black male undergraduates has expanded to include:
- Collaborations with historically Black (NPHC) fraternities to target their members;
- The Black Male Summit: fall welcome in collaboration with Black fraternities and Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB)
- Designated study hours and space;
- Coaching, informal mentoring and social networking;
- Referrals to academic support in the Student Success Center;
- An annual conference, The Uplifting Black Men Conference
- A day-long college access program for Black male high school students and
- Engagement opportunities with alumni to increase social capital and facilitate resource sharing
BMEN will continue to implement strategies outlined in Virginia Tech’s Diversity Strategic Plan that aim to increase the academic success of diverse and underrepresented students. In cooperation with InclusiveVT efforts, BMEN will help to identify and reduce barriers to the academic progress and achievement Black males; and will, in collaboration with student and academic affairs colleagues around campus, proactively respond to the academic, social, and cultural needs of Black males throughout their undergraduate careers.
Email Patrick Wallace