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Interactions with the African American Advisory Council Spark New Initiatives at UIC

Cheryl Johnson and Carlos Nelson have been working closely with the Executive and Administrative teams at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) over the past few years to address the disparity in African American administration, staff, and most importantly student body.  Cheryl co-chairs what we now call the African American Advisory Council (AAAC) at UIC working with the former chancellor (Paula Allen-Meares) and new chancellor (Michael Amiridis).

They hosted the UIC Chancellor several months ago here in Auburn Gresham and the short letter attached outlines some of the exciting changes that the new Chancellor has implemented because of the AAAC's work.

Date: 2/16/2016

Memo: Members of the African American Advisory Council

From: Caroline Theus Swinney, Director of Community Relations

Subject: Interactions with the African American Advisory Council Spark
New Initiatives at UIC

As a result of meetings with Chancellor Amiridis and members of both African American
Advisory Council (AAAC) and African American Alumni, 2016 promises to be a very exciting
year for UIC and our community partners.  A number of initiatives that had their genesis in both
groups have emerged and are beginning to make their mark and we want you to know about

UIC Engage!

Chancellor Amiridis has turned to Dr. Alfred Tatum, Dean of the College of Education, to
create a K-12 mentoring initiative that will be delivered by trained UIC students.  You can
Google Dr. Albert Tatum to learn more about background.    

UIC Engage (UE) will have a soft launch in February 2016, in schools and in faith-based sites.  
UE will provide math, writing and homework assistance to children in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades
in the Chicago Public Schools and in three faith-based sites determined by the Westside
Pastors represented by Reverend Randall Harris.

This initiative grew out of comments and recommendations made during your meetings with
Chancellor Michael Amiridis in July 2015.  UE will benefit students attending neighborhood
schools in the city.  Volunteer training for UIC student mentors has begun.   A copy of the
volunteer recruitment flyer is included for your information.

UIC Admissions Produces First Recruitment Publications Targeting African American

African American Advisory Council Members asked UIC staff and Chancellor Amiridis about
recruitment strategies and publications used at target high schools.  These conversations led
to collaboration between the AAAC and the African American Recruitment, Enrollment and
Retention Initiative (AARERI).  

AARERI is composed of the Office of Admissions personnel, support programs and
representatives from UIC colleges.  AAAC members provided input on the first publication that
will be widely used by UIC recruiters.  A copy of the new publication, with a photo of Malik
Nevels is enclosed for your review.

UIC Accepting Top 4 % of graduates from accredited high schools in wider Chicago

A question regarding admission procedures was raised during the Chancellor’s visit with
leaders at the Greater Auburn Gresham, Englewood meeting.  Carlos Nelson asked if UIC
automatically accepted the top two graduating students from every high school.   This question
led to an energetic discussion among the admissions staff regarding automatic admission of
the top students from neighborhood schools.

This led to a decision to automatically accept the top 4% of students graduating from
accredited Illinois high schools, irrespective of their standardized test scores.  UIC
implemented this 4% initiative late in 2015 Fall Semester, effective for fall 2016 applicants.   
The Office of Admissions has noticed an increase in the diversity of incoming applications. We
are cautiously optimistic that this change will have a positive effect in increasing the enrollment
of underrepresented populations in the long run.

Taskforce Created to Review African American Student Retention Strategies!

While the Office of Admissions is seeing an increase in the number of undergraduate African
American applications (20%) and admissions (52%) over fall 2015, a new task force has been
created to address the gap in the retention and graduation rates of African American students.  
The task force will be chaired by Dr. Barbara Ransby, whom you can Google to learn more
about her background.  One of AAAC’s own – Dr. Ron Whitmore - has been asked to join the

The interaction with members of the African American Advisory Council is making a difference
on a number of levels.  Here’s to growing the partnership with UIC and the African American
Advisory Council!!!!

Keywords: African American Advsiory Council, Chicago, education, UIC, University of Illinois

Posted in Local Businesses, Education, Auburn Gresham in the News


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