Wagner College psychology professor Miles Groth, an internationally renowned authority on the psychology of boys and men, was recently called upon to help Scranton, Pa.’s Marywood University, a co-educational Catholic institution, figure out how to provide better support for their dwindling population of male students.
“On average, males make up only about 37 percent of the undergraduate student bodies of liberal arts colleges nationwide,” Groth said, “but at Marywood, I was told, it’s more like 30 percent, and they have fewer guys there now than they did a decade ago. The last admissions cycle, male enrollment was so disappointing that the administration decided to do something about it.”
“Our administration noticed perhaps two years ago that our male student population was not what it could be (or perhaps should be),” said Bradley A. Janey of Marywood’s Department of Graduate Counseling. “They appointed a number of people to a task force to study the problem, and try and generate some solutions. I was one of the people who was asked to serve. Because of my background and interest in male psychology and student retention, I was aware of some of Dr. Groth’s work.”
Janey had read “Engaging College Men: Discovering What Works and Why” (2010), which Groth edited with Gar Kellom. After several rounds of correspondence and telephone conversations, Janey set up a consultation “visit” via Skype connection with a group of concerned faculty and administrators at Marywood.
“The focus was on retention and the engagement of male students, and ways to make the campus more ‘male friendly’,” Groth said. “I think it starts in the classroom and spreads to the campus.”
Groth pointed to research indicating differences in learning styles between younger men and women — though those differences tend to even out by the end of the traditional college years.
Groth also suggested that the content in some classes is “male aversive,” and that some faculty members might be sending similar signals.
“Students are sometimes told about how bad, how dangerous men are,” Groth said, “but those warnings may be detached from any context. … Maybe it’s appropriate to make a positive effort to find ways to re-tune such courses.”
Miles Groth, a member of the psychology faculty at Wagner College since 1994, was one of the convenors of an April 2010 international conference on the creation of a new academic discipline, “male studies,” that was the subject of much discussion in higher education circles. He was one of the scholars profiled by Charles McGrath in a Jan. 9, 2011 feature story published in the New York Times Education Life section, “Man or Male? An Academic Movement Raises Questions About What it Means to be a Man, and How to Save Him.”
Earlier this year, Miles Groth began writing a blog for Psychology Today, “Boys to Men: The Science of Masculinity and Manhood.”
And, in late-breaking news: The University of South Australia has confirmed its interest in the entire program of graduate courses (certificates and degrees) in male studies developed at a conference hosted by Wagner College last year. Work is underway to complete the curriculum announced in a recent issue of "New Male Studies: An International Journal" (volume 1, number 3). At a time when the well-being of boys and men has become a central issue in the media, graduate students in Australia, Canada, the States, the U.K. and Europe and elsewhere will have an opportunity to earn a graduate certificate and/or degree in male studies, beginning in the fall of 2014. Wagner's Men's Center has been the North Pole of this initiative, with the Australian Institute for Men's Health and Studies its South Pole.