Centering Black Student Success

A Review of Three Qualitative Studies to Aid in the Increase of African American/Black Student Success

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Unified Recommendations

Money Matters

  • Funding for staff to manage more Black male-specific interventions
  • Increase initiatives and funding to support cultivation of Black faculty in underrepresented fields - provide additional funding to the Bell Fellows Program & RAISE Initiative
  • Funding to support Black male-specific mental health and wellness support staff
  • Reevaluate impact of financial incentives for regional campus enrollment
  • Increase the number of full-tuition scholarships along with college completion grants
But then - I got the Morrill Scholarship and that's it. I was sold. I was just like, free college, yes, that is something I want to do. - Brandy

Mental Health and Wellness for Black Students

  • Increase educational opportunities about financial wellness beyond loans and paying for college
  • Develop opportunities for students to engage with nuances around their Black identity (e.g., colorism, mental health stigma, intersections of race and other identities)
  • Evaluate the use of embedded counselors and ensure awareness of mental health providers with shared identities
  • Increase the number of Black mental health and wellness counselors and increase mental health services
  • Train all mental health providers to be culturally responsive
Um, having a Black counselor for the first time, like, it was somebody who could resonate with me and like, also shared their experience [being Black in predominantly white spaces] and made me understand that, like, okay, you’re not crazy for feeling this way. - Analise
Students Doing Yoga on Oval

Communication and Transparency

  • Honestly portray the experiences of Black students at OSU to prospective students
  • Make enrollment demographics for each OSU campus publically available
  • Share the process of conducting a “holistic review”
  • Agree on shared language between multiple campuses to ease transitions
  • Outreach to Black campus change students throughout their first year at the Columbus campus
  • Review and update how reports of racism and bias are managed and communicated
  • Center conversations about race and follow with aligned actions
  • Promote options for organizational involvement early to Black students to aid in informed decision making
  • Improve promotion of multicultural events on-campus for all students to attend
  • Improve promotion of services offered by ODI
After you know the movements and things that have happened on campus, just [institutional leadership] being slow to action. And yeah, just [institutional leadership] adjusting to white students needs rather than Black students needs...And it's like in the middle because there are a lot of resources [for Black males], but also know that there's a lot of progress that can be made to better the University’s relationship with Black male students. - John
Student and Professor talking

Major and Career Path Selection Support

  • Ensure opportunities exist for students to engage in discussion of race around their chosen major/profession
  • Provide network opportunities for Black students to engage with others in their major
  • Host informal panels where Black males can share their persistence and resistance strategies
He [my advisor] has a really friendly sweet grandpa-like demeanor. He’s so sweet and he’s very helpful. He helped me navigate where I want my career path to go. He’s very understanding and flexible. That’s important to me. - Heidi
Eddie George speaking to class


  • Ensure Black students have the opportunity and access to faculty to have open and honest conversations for academic and non-academic issues/topics
  • Increase opportunities for cross-cultural mentorship
  • Improve the quality of the Morrill Scholars Program (MSP) mentor-mentee relationship beyond the 1st and 2nd years
  • Implement a peer mentor program connecting current Black OSU students on the Columbus campus with those changing from a regional campus
  • Create or revive a formal Black male-specific peer mentorship program with stipend for mentors and mentees
So that's a piece [poor experience with white counselor] that motivated me to become more this counselor, mentor, coach for others and kind of directed me to psychology, because I was like I never want to have, I'll never want somebody to have an experience like that, where they just feel so misunderstood. Like naw, naw, that ain’t happening. -John

Population-Specific Recommendations

Black Campus Change Students

Faculty and Staff Training

  • Train faculty and staff in both cultural competence and empathy
  • Recognize and reward faculty and staff for their work in creating inclusive spaces
  • Normalize the many pathways students take to arrive at the OSU Columbus campus

Regional Campus Collaborations

  • Increase availability of resources specific to Black students on regional campuses
  • Create opportunities for Columbus faculty to learn teaching and student support strategies from regional campus faculty

Orientation and Transitions

  • Develop an orientation to the Columbus campus for campus change students
  • Emphasize culturally relevant resources in current and future transition tools

Resources for Black Campus Change Students

  • Create additional points of entry or parallel experiences for Black students to join a cohort after transitioning to Columbus (e.g., Young Scholars or Morrill Scholarship Program)

Implications for Further Research and Assessment

  • Increase support for research on the experiences of Black students (with particular attention to supporting Black researchers)
  • Investigate resource use and availability to determine barriers to engagement and gaps in provided services
Two students talking on bridge
Students enjoying a BSA Event
Family at Graduation

Black Men in 3rd and 4th Years

Culture & Climate

  • Disseminate a Black male-specific culture survey

Black Students in 4th and 5th Years

Organizational Involvement

  • Provide ongoing support and improve programming for Black students beyond the 1st and 2nd year


I know like, um, like for first generation students and Black students, like, retention rate is, like, it’s not as high as, like, White students. So I always feel like that’s kind of something in the back of my head. Like, I don’t want to just be, like, a number, another number. You know, I want to make sure I actually, like, graduate. - Jas W.