To help minority students navigate the academic and social maze of the University, administrators in the College Office this year created a full-time post for a minority student adviser. Janice Currington, formerly an assistant dean for advising, began as an assistant dean for minority affairs and advising this semester. She will concentrate her efforts on advising black and Hispanic students. The new position is designed to increase minority student enrollment and retention in the College, according to School of Arts and Sciences Associate Undergraduate Dean Norman Adler. Currington will work with the students as both an academic adviser and a counselor. The problems Currington will address include financial and psychological barriers that minority students face at the University, she said. Adler and Currington said the position is necessary because minority students are not proportionally represented at the University and when they get here they are less likely to graduate. According to the registrar, in the fall of 1989 18 percent of full-time undergraduate College students were Asian, 10 percent were black, and five percent were Hispanic. In the United States, 12.4 percent of the population is black and eight percent of the population is Hispanic, according to government statistics from 1988. According to a report from a committee on advising and retention printed in The Almanac last year, the percentage of students who graduate in six years or less was 88 percent for the University overall, 65 percent for black students, and 78.5 percent for Hispanics. Administrators said yesterday that these figures have all risen slightly across the board since then. Currington said this week she plans to connect students with other resources centers and programs such as the African-American Resource Center, the Afro-American Studies Program and the Women's Center so that they know about and can take advantage of the opportunities open to them. Currington said she will also work with minority students in the sciences to stay in their programs to take advantage of the grants available to them. "We lose minority students in science early," Adler said. "We want to encourage them to stay on track." The assistant dean said she will also to encourage minority students to participate in study groups which are being started in some science classes this semester. Though much emphasis is being placed on science, Currington said she will also advise for such programs as study abroad for humanities and social sciences students. Adler said Currington will also help the students to explore their cultural identity. "College is a time when students begin to look on an area [of themselves] they hadn't before," Adler said. Currington will also continue to hold walk-in hours for any student who needs advising. "I need to see all the students the problems and concerns that they face as well as the successes and rewards so I can effectively advise minority students," Currington said. College junior Jonathan Cropper said yesterday that Currington has been helpful to him since he entered the University and said he was enthusiastic about her chances for making a difference for other minority students on campus. "This will be something that might make a difference," Cropper said last night. "A lot of black administrators have left . . . Basically there is going to be no one around. She is going to have a pretty critical role here." Cropper also emphasized the importance of Currington's appointment in increasing the visibility of minority administrators. He said prominent minority administrators, such as former Wharton Undergraduate Vice Dean Marion Oliver, are crucial in attracting top minority students to campus. "When people would come to campus to visit they would say Wow this black man is a really important administrator,'" Cropper said. "They would think maybe this school would be more committed."Comments powered by Disqus
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