Morristown, N.J. (March 2, 2016) – "Colleges must create a sense of belonging for student success," Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, professor of higher education and student affairs at Ohio State University, told CSE students during an event celebrating Black History Month on campus.
"All kids want to belong and feel significant," he taught. "Belonging requires trusting relationships, and subtle stereotyping can prevent those relationships from forming."
He also talked about being privileged because his mother was willing to back him up in situations that were born of stereotyping and racism.
"Not all kids have this," he noted. "We as teachers and mentors have to take on this role for our students who are not so privileged."
Strayhorn conducted afternoon and evening sessions on February 24, 2016, for faculty and staff of both CSE and the event's co-sponsor, Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition to his professorial work, Dr. Strayhorn directs the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE), a multi-million dollar research and policy center that focuses on creating and maintaining student success in higher education. He had previously founded and directed the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, and Academic Success (IDEAS) at Ohio State University. In 2008, Dr. Strayhorn was awarded the CAREER research grant award from the National Science Foundation.
Strayhorn also spoke eloquently about loving to learn. His example is Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Black History Month (which was originally Negro History Week in 1926 until the federal government recognized it as a month in 1976), and a self-taught educator who became the principal of a high school at the age of 25.
"We need to set goals that are good for us as individuals," Dr. Strayhorn explained. "We don't need to be the first, be the best, win awards, or be the youngest at something. We need to savor life and have our goal be mindfulness; to have a full understanding of ourselves."
Students were motivated by his talk. As one student said, "What matters most is that your teacher believes fully in you!" Dr. Strayhorn agreed enthusiastically and urged all participants to get to know one another fully, including cultures, backgrounds and individual strengths and weaknesses.