Expert examines college retention for men

Cal Lutheran author of new book to be interviewed

Dan Tillapaugh, associate professor and department chair of counselor education at Cal Lutheran, co-wrote “Men & Masculinities: Theoretical Foundations and Promising Practices for Supporting College Men’s Development.” 

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – July 25, 2019) A California Lutheran University faculty member co-authored a just-released book on addressing the difficulties that men from underrepresented groups encounter in college, and he will discuss the topic during a livestreamed interview next week.

Dan Tillapaugh, associate professor and department chair of counselor education at Cal Lutheran, and Brian McGowan, an associate professor of education at American University, wrote “Men & Masculinities: Theoretical Foundations and Promising Practices for Supporting College Men’s Development,” which was released in June. An interview with the authors will be livestreamed 10 a.m. PDT Wednesday, July 31, at HigherEdLive.com

White men are succeeding in college at the same rates they have historically, but the retention of black, Latino and Native American men has dropped. Queer and transgender men also encounter more problems in college. Men who do stay in college are involved in more student conduct cases and engage more often in risky behaviors involving alcohol, drug use and sexual relationships. 

“A lot of the research on men in college by gender studies scholars shows that men are disconnected. They’re playing video games and are staying away from the classroom. They are hearing and internalizing that to be academically smart is actually to be more feminine,” Tillapaugh said. “College men are also less likely to engage in help-seeking behaviors than their women peers. They’re not going to counseling. They’re not going to health services.”

Tillapaugh said college programming needs to better serve these students. For instance, video game contests can draw out men who are gaming in their rooms. Some programming should also get men talking about the effects of male gender identity and unhealthy aspects of masculinity and help them in their development. In fall, Tillapaugh will begin working to improve retention rates of men of color at Cal Lutheran through peer mentoring and leadership-development and career-focused activities as part of a program funded by a federal $3.75 million grant.

“We have to be thoughtful about it,” Tillapaugh said. “If folks are just leaving because of something that is happening here that is not conducive to their education and we could fix it, we need to address that.”

Tillapaugh, who has a doctorate in leadership studies from the University of San Diego, worked as a student affairs administrator for 10 years before he began teaching full time. From 2012 to 2016, he served as the chair for the Coalition on Men and Masculinities for the American College Personnel Association and College Student Educators International. ACPA recognized him as an Emerging Scholar Designee from 2016 to 2018 for his research on college student development.

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