Black Male Success Initiative (BMSI)

The Black Male Success Initiative is committed to increasing the postsecondary attainment rates of black males in the state of Tennessee. Members of the inaugural Black Male Success Taskforce will be dedicated to creating statewide strategies and sharing best practices for higher education partners to assist in eliminating these gaps in Tennessee.

Although the Black Male Success Initiative is in the early phases of ramping up, potential students can start their journey now with help from other statewide programs. High school students and new college students can find resources at If you are an adult learner (anyone 24 or older) and would like one-on-one support, sign up with a Reconnect College Navigator today. You can also find more resources for adult learners at

Guiding vision: Tennessee has significant gaps in the postsecondary attainment rates for Black males across the state including retention and graduation rates. To improve the current statistics, the need for a Black Male Success Initiative (BMSI) has been established. This initiative, led by THEC, aims to identify, and implement best practices and resources to support Black males across the state.

Issue: The postsecondary graduation rates for Black males in the state of Tennessee are astonishingly low compared to counterparts across the state. The six-year graduation rates for Black males (26 percent) were 20-22 percentage points lower than the average six-year overall graduation rate (47 percent) at our public universities and community colleges.  Additionally, the statewide fall-fall retention rates for Black males (57 percent) are roughly 11-13 percentage points lower compared to the rates for all students (69 percent) at the same institutions.

Task: Research and identify best practices to support postsecondary attainment for Black males across the state of Tennessee.


  1. Select a statewide network of passionate practitioners committed to the success of Black males in the state of Tennessee.
  2. Provide convenings and trainings with national experts to support the understanding of best practices for Black male success.
  3. Develop a statewide strategic plan to include benchmarks to aid in the success of Black males.
  4. Create potential partnerships with other state and community agencies to aid in the resources and support for Black males.
  5. Explore potential developments for initiatives on campuses such as summer bridge programs, micro/completion grants, and/or success coaches centered around the success of Black males.

Black Male Success Initiative Listserv – The listserv will serve as a place for higher education practitioners to share resources, best practices, and a community of support in the pursuit of increasing postsecondary attainment rates of Black males in the state of Tennessee. If you would like to be added, please email Julie A. Roberts ( with your contact information and institutional affiliation.

Member Title Affliation
Dr. Shawn Boyd Postsecondary Program and Engagement Manager State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
Mr. Darrell Freeman Chairman S3 Recycling Solutions
Dr. Yancey Freeman Vice Chancellor,
Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Dr. Logan Hampton President Lane College
Dr. S. Keith Hargrove Dean, College of Engineering Tennessee State University
Dr. Kendricks Hooker Vice President of Academic Affairs Southwest Tennessee Community College
Dr. Shanna Jackson President Nashville State Community College 
Dr. Dorian McCoy Associate Department Head & Associate Professor,
Dept. of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
Unviersity of Tennessee, Knoxville
Mr. Aaron McGee Vice President of Action, Advocacy, and Education Oasis Center
Dr. James Orr Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Strategic Enrollment University of Memphis
Dr. Julie Roberts Associate Chief Academic Officer Tennessee Higher Education Commission
Dr. Wendy Thompson Vice Chancellor for Organizational Effectiveness Tennessee Board of Regents
Mr. Patrick Wade Vice President Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Knoxville