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From Crisis Management to Academic Achievement: A University Cluster-mentoring Model for Black Undergraduates

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 89, No. 3

Maurice Apprey, Patrice Preston-Grimes, Kimberley Bassett & Dion W. Lewis , University of Virginia

Ryan M. Rideau  - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


In spite of the widening racial achievement gap among U.S. college students (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), some universities are achieving success in supporting the graduation and postcollege goals of Black undergraduates (Apprey, Bassett, Preston-Grimes, Lewis, & Wood 2014/this issue; Baker, 2006; Hrabowski, 2003; Hrabowski & Maton, 2009). Although research has documented efforts to improve students’ college academic success in mathematics, science, and engineering (Maton & Hrabowski, 2004), little research has examined the role of undergraduate support programs across the academic disciplines to bridge success for students from high school graduation through graduate school matriculation. This is a key link in the pipeline to career and lifelong achievement for Black students. The following case study describes an inclusive cluster-mentoring model for Black undergraduates at a Research I university that includes four elements—(a) student peer-advising, (b) faculty–student academic mentoring and advising, (c) culturally sensitive initiatives, and (d) organized parental support—to create high impact with measurable results. This university-based model can serve as a guide to improve and expand services that support the academic and leadership success of Black undergraduate students in other higher education settings.


Maurice Apprey, Ph.D. , is Dean of African-American Affairs and Professor of Psychiatric Medicine and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia.

Patrice Preston-Grimes, Ph.D. , is Associate Dean of African-American Affairs, Director of the GradSTAR Program, and an Associate Professor in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.

Kimberley C. Bassett, Ph.D. , is Assistant Dean of African-American Affairs and Director of the Peer Advisor Program at the University of Virginia.

Dion W. Lewis is Assistant Dean of African-American Affairs and Director of the Luther P. Jackson Cultural Center at the University of Virginia.

Ryan M. Rideau is Director of Undergraduate Diversity Initiatives & Assistant Director of the Undergraduate Research Institute at the College of Liberal Arts & Human Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.