Brian McGowan HeadshotInstitutions of higher education across the nation continue to struggle with how to improve the success of Black men on their campuses. Black men have the lowest undergraduate degree completion rates as compared to all other gender and racial/ethnic groups. The latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that the six-year college completion rate for Black men is about half of the overall national average. Dr. Brian McGowan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education, researches these issues and is using his findings to improve college retention rates and overall success of Black college men. McGowan, whose research was recognized with the 2018 SOE Distinguished Scholar Award, works with educators and administrators across the country in the development of campus policies, programs, and communities that can improve student learning, campus engagement, and retention for Black college men.

McGowan’s work breaks new ground as he explores the intersections of race, gender, and the role of interpersonal relationships as related to the experiences of Black men in college. In his research, McGowan has demonstrated ways in which Black men gain a greater sense of their racial and gender identity through their relationships with other men (same race and cross race) throughout their college experience. Attending to these issues can help college learners gain deeper insights into their identities, friendships, and the manner in which these connections influence their overall college experience.

McGowan has found that developing these capacities to examine one’s identity, personal relationships, and opportunities on campus that support these efforts can lead to higher retention rates and greater overall success in college. McGowan led a team of scholars in the publication of Black Men in the Academy: Narratives of Resiliency, Achievement and Success, published by Palgrave MacMillan.

Some of his recent findings can be found in these publications:

McGowan, B. L. (2017). Visualizing peer connections: The gendered realities of African American college men’s interpersonal relationships. Journal of College Student Development, 58(7), 983-1000.

McGowan, B. L. (2016). Interpersonal relationships: Exploring race and relationship decisions among African American college men. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 53(3), 243-255.