Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Two former Rio Hondo Deans head African American Summit

Close to six hundred college administrators, educators, and students came together March 5th and 6th at the Los Angeles Airport Westin Hotel for the 8th annual African American Male Educational Network and Development (A²MEND) Summit. The theme for this year’s summit was “From Plan to Action: Examining Equity Minded Approaches to African American Male Success.”

Dr. Walter Jones, former Rio Hondo Dean of Student Services, and Dr. Dyrell Foster, former Rio Hondo College Dean of Student Affairs, are the current president and incoming president, respectively, of A²MEND.

The statistics regarding African-American men in higher education, both as students and educational professionals often paints a bleak picture for the future. A dwindling number of African-American male students in postsecondary education (in both public and private institutions) and a dearth of black faculty and administrators represent an alarming trend in education.

This trend is even more alarming in the nation’s community colleges, often viewed as gateways for advanced degrees and upward mobility for the most disenfranchised and under-represented student populations.

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The crisis among African-American men in higher education has become a hot-button issue during recent times with the rapid infusion of statistics and reports that point out the symptoms of the problem but rarely focus on its root causes or offer tangible solutions.

In response to the lack of educational success of African American Male students in California Community Colleges, the African American Male Educational Network and Development Inc. (A²MEND) in 2008 organized the First African American Male Summit, which brought together faculty, staff, students and administrators from across the country to address the administrative and instructional strategies that have an impact on the success of African American male students.

The mission of the annual summit is to counteract the dismal forecast of the African American male in higher education by centrally focusing on the role of the institution. Institutions of higher learning play a pivotal role in the education, leadership, support, and engagement of these students.

This annual summit addresses these problems. Informative presenters and interactive workshops develop realistic strategies and concrete recommendations that can be put into practice.

Since the initial summit in 2008, thousands of people have had the opportunity to dialogue about the issues pertaining to the academic success of African American men in higher education.

Over the past seven years the African American Male Summit has placed a spotlight on the institutional challenges and barriers that exist within higher education to produce positive educational outcomes for African American men.

“The Summit has really taken off,” said Dr. Dyrell Foster, incoming president of A²MEND. “We are really getting traction. Our attendance is roughly double what it was last year.”

“This is only the beginning,” continues Dr. Foster, “we still find a pervasive and persistent gap in the achievement levels of African American males in all educational indicators in comparison to other racial and gender groups.“

In an issued statement, the executive board of A²MEND declared, “While A²MEND is quite proud of our past efforts we know that we have not done enough. We must delve deeper and do more to overcome entrenched systemic barriers and the long- term effect that these barriers have had on the psyche of all of us who work with African American male students, and to an even greater extent, the effect it has had on the students themselves. We contend that we all simply have to do more! We must renew, revive and recommit ourselves to identify and remove the barriers that stand between our students and their educational goals.”

The members of A²MEND contend that in order to bring about change, each individual involved in higher education must examine themselves and answer the difficult question: Am I doing all that I can with the influence that I have to ensure the success of African American male students?

A²MEND encourages all educational and community stakeholders, regardless of race or gender, who want to make a personal commitment to improving the educational outcomes of African American male students, to learn more by downloading the African American Male Education and Network Development phone app, available on the App Store and on Google Play. Their website address is

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