New director for at-risk black males program

Edward G. Tolliver, Ph.D. was recently named the director of Florida A&M University’s Black Male College Explorers Program.

The Black Male College Explorers Program is an at-risk prevention/intervention program designed specifically to prevent black males from dropping out of high school, facilitate their admission to college and significantly increase their chances of earning a college degree.

“I am truly excited and passionate about this program,” Tolliver said. “Our major objective is to help an at-risk black male become a safe-risk male.”

The program was started by former FAMU President Frederick Humphries, who started the program to improve the academic performance of young black men from grades 7-12.

“From 1991 to 2005 the program has helped 1,059 young men,” Tolliver said.

Tolliver said Humphries believed the University could better prepare students so that they would have good enough grades to get into college, and to keep up with the schoolwork once they’re in college.

Tolliver graduated from FAMU in 2001 and said he has loved FAMU ever since.

Tolliver grew up in Apalachicola and said he was conditioned at a young age to be a Rattler.

“I was around men such as coach (Jake) Gaither, B.L. Perry and Frederick Humphries as a young boy,” Tolliver explained.

Tolliver replaces the now retired Thomas Mitchell as head of the Black Male College Explorers Program.

“I have known (Tolliver) for quite a while,” Mitchell said. “He has been very active with the alumni association.”

Mitchell was the director of FAMU’s Black Male College Explorers Program for the past 17-years and knows what kinds of challenges Tolliver will face.

“A lot of the young black men applying for colleges these days already have records like driving under the influence, fighting charges or drugs,” Mitchell said. “He is going to have the same obstacles that I had 17 years ago.”

Tolliver received his associate of arts degree from Tallahassee Community College and his bachelor of science, master of applied social science and doctor of philosophy from FAMU.

The Black Male College Explorers Program runs during the summer on the FAMU campus. Coordinator of Summer Programs Claire Smith said, “The program is a success. Some of these kids get into college.”

Smith has been the coordinator for the last nine years. She said Tolliver should keep some of the veteran staff members to allow for continuity.

“People like Randolph Bellamy, Lester Oliver, Mamie Lewis, Allen McKay and Edgar Griffin all need to stay on,” Smith said. “The kids are familiar with them.”

Tolliver said all positions are up for grabs.

“We posted positions on the Internet. All positions are open,” he said. “We sent letters to all former employees to let them know that they were open.”

Edgar Griffin, the academic adviser and lead counselor of the program, said he hopes Tolliver does not make any drastic changes. Griffin has been with the program for the last four years.

“They (children) respect change and respect change in authority,” Griffin said, “but some of these guys are used to being brought in and dropped off all their lives. If I were him I would bring in the same people who the kids are used to.”

Since the program started at FAMU some 17 years ago, the Florida Legislature has since given grants for its progression.

Tolliver said he would eventually like to run self-sufficiently.

“Grants are great,” he explained, “but we the people need to take care of things ourselves sometimes.”

With summer time closing in, students will soon find out what major steps this program has taken with its new leadership.