2009-2010 Academic Chair's Report
As we were in the beginning of the school year we end on a note that inspires us to keep pressing on as we continue to find ways to better reach and walk with our brothers as the persist to graduation. During the school year that is now ending we faced challenges, most of which we were able to successfully address. More lasting than those challenges are our definite successes and progress towards a greater capacity to serve.
We began in August as Dr. Walter Kimbrough (President of Philander Smith College), reminded us in a way that was unmistakably clear, that our challenges are not solely the responsibility of a few good men and women but that the entire Coppin Family must see itself as significant contributors to our improvement. His words resonated with many and breathed a fresh life into our efforts. His words also gave myself and other facilitators a much needed booster and we witnessed a renewed interest in the initiative which brought some new faces with fresh perspectives.
As we engaged in self examination, we were further encouraged by the news that we were successful in securing a small budget that would allow us to address some needs that for long had gone unmet. Although keenly aware that the budget would only allow us to attain a portion of the proposed solutions and materials that we identified in our plan that was submitted to the university, it was an improvement that allowed us to work on building our organizational capacity to better serve our target population and market our efforts. Notable outcomes are the securing of a brand for the Coppin Man, the purchase of t-shirts, the development of a resource kit that will be distributed to all Freshmen males as well as to current members of the Coppin Man, the development of our web site , and the hosting of workshops as well as this special year-end ceremony.
The Coppin Man as a group was more active this year. The group continues to meet every Thursday night at 7:30 as requested by brothers with 38 being our highest number attending any session for both the Fall and spring semesters. Although scheduled to end at 9pm, members of the group have continued in deep dialogue as late as 15 minutes past midnight. The request for us to continue meeting every week and the students' strong desire to continue meeting after the scheduled end, suggest to us that the Coppin Man is meeting a need for these young men, and we continue to have new students visit the group every month.
This past year, members of the group read stories to children at Mondawmin Mall as part of the celebrations for Black History Month; we co-sponsored a Friday night showing of the acclaimed play, "Pill Hill." For that night the group played host to men from Aunt Hattie's Place, home for boys. Members of the Coppin Man teamed up with the Morgan Mile, Morgan State University’s male initiative, to work on a Habitat for Humanity Project. Members of the Coppin Man served as ushers for the "One Million Mentors" event sponsored by Michael Baisden; and members of the Coppin Man served as ushers for the graduation ceremony.
Another major component of our outreach efforts are the partnerships we were able to develop or are developing. Some of these partnerships are with other campus groups and off campus groups. For instance, one that we have really enjoyed is our partnership with the Morgan Mile which so far has resulted in the Habitat for Humanity project mentioned earlier, and we are currently discussing other possibilities that will occur during the year. I am also very please to note that we are also having discussions with our brothers from Bowie State University’s Black Male Agenda and Black Male Initiative , Howard University’s Man Up program, the University of Maryland’s Black Male Initiative. I have also had a long conversation with an assistant VP from Towson University regarding the outreach efforts to Black Males.
The Coppin Academy and Rosemont Academy are part of the Coppin Family and some outreach has been made to these groups, but the nature of the partnerships is yet to be determined.
In the Fall we will be partnering with the Office of Residence Life to have some of our sessions held in a designated location in one of the dorms.
We have also enjoyed and informal partnership with the Freshman Male Initiative as some of its members, both mentors and mentees are active members of the Coppin Man.
Although some of our key supporters cannot always make our meeting, they stay in touch with me and offer some support. One such person is Ms. Shirley Thomas. She has referred students to the group as well as connected us with some of the other staff members from the Academic Resource Center. Recently, some of its new faculty has offered to assist the initiative and take the lead in developing our study hall that would include involvement from male students as well as male faculty and staff. I am excited about this.
We have also enjoyed support from Coppin Student Support Services where this semester’s lead facilitator, Professor Anthony Ray is employed. Support from this office is also proving to be very instrumental in helping.
Finally, we can celebrate the fact that members of the Coppin Man continue to make significant contributions to student governance at Coppin and also excel academically. Once again, Mr. Coppin is an active member of the Coppin Man, members are student senators, presidents of a variety of student organizations. Some of these young men have attended and presented at national conferences and have received such awards as “Honors Student Research Award", the "MLK Jr. Award," the "Chair's Mile" award, …………….to name a few.
We are very proud of these brothers and the bond that has and is developing as we all journey together focused on their persistence to graduation while having a healthy, fun college experience.
Errol S. Bolden, PH.D.