Monday, May 18, 2020

By Elianna Novitch

Charles Martin-Stanley II’s research seeks to expose and address racial barriers in higher education for black men.

Because of his impactful research and community service, Martin-Stanley II, a Higher Education and Student Affairs doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, was selected as the 2020 graduate recipient of the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award.

Martin-Stanley II says he was humbled to be awarded the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award. He is inspired by Hubbard, who dedicated himself to human rights and equal opportunity throughout his distinguished career at the UI. The Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award was established in 1981 in honor of Philip G. Hubbard, University of Iowa Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Academic Affairs from 1966-1989.

“His legacy is so important to me as a black man who is hoping to make this campus more accessible to black men,” Martin-Stanley II says. “As I think of the people before me who have received the Human Rights award, I am honored to be a part of a group of students who have demonstrated a commitment to human rights in a variety of ways.”

Originally from Onalaska, Wisconsin, Martin-Stanley II’s research explores the complex set of factors that contribute to structural barriers and achievement gaps in higher education for black men.

“Colleges and universities in the United States are struggling to enroll and retain black men,” Martin-Stanley II says. “Black men’s low college enrollments, underachievement, and low graduation rates are among the most pressing and complex issues in American higher education today.”

Martin-Stanley II focuses on the persistence and retention of black men at historically white institutions.

“Much of the literature on black men in higher education utilizes a deficit perspective in discussing the failures of black college men,” Martin-Stanley II says. “However, I choose to focus on the successes of black men in the academy and how many students succeed against the odds. My anti-deficit approach tends to highlight the strengths of black men and how they make meaningful contributions to the life of an institution.”

Based on his research, he hopes to generate recommendations and offer specific strategies that colleges and universities can use to help the next generation of black college men to become successful and attain their educational goals. The findings from Martin-Stanley II’s research will be useful to college administrators and educational policymakers, as they review and develop new and innovative strategies that will support the retention and graduation of black men on campus.

“This research matters because representation matters. The representation of historically underrepresented and marginalized students in higher education affects student success and experiences,” Martin-Stanley II says. “Highlighting the experiences of successful black men in college is critical to changing the prevailing negative narrative about black college men. My research is important because it will incorporate the voices of marginalized black college men.”

Martin-Stanley II has been recognized for his research by the Martin Luther King Jr. Research Symposium for the past two years and was chosen to be part of the Office of the Vice President for Research’s Dare to Discover campaign that showcases researchers, scholars, and creators from across the University of Iowa on banners throughout downtown Iowa City. Martin-Stanley II is also the president for the Hubbard Scholars, a UI group of men that seeks to follow the legacy of Hubbard.

Martin-Stanley II has worked tirelessly to connect with students and create a more inclusive community of learning and support. He attributes a lot of his service work, including with Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Iowa City and Black Lives Matter Books and Breakfast, to his involvement with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

“I have been able to use my passion for serving historically underrepresented and marginalized communities to volunteer or organize events that directly benefit these communities,” Martin-Stanley II says. “I most enjoy the opportunities where I can combine the love for my fraternity with the love for my scholarship.”

This past year, Martin-Stanley II helped to organize a four-part event called the “Black Grad Series,” where the brothers of the fraternity facilitated discussions between black undergraduates on this campus, who had a desire to attend graduate and professional school, and black graduate students on this campus who were navigating their experience.

Martin-Stanley II says he does not think he would be as successful as he has been without the ongoing support of the UI College of Education. He attributes a lot of his success to the faculty in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program and his advisor, Professor Sherry Watt.

“When I first got to this institution, the rigorous coursework challenged me to think in different ways. I believe critical thinking is imperative to being able to be a successful scholar-practitioner,” Martin-Stanley II says. “I also appreciate the various professional development opportunities that the College of Education has provided for me."

After he graduates, Martin-Stanley II wants to be a professor and teach courses related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. He also wants to work in student affairs.

“I would appreciate the opportunity to be able to create and implement initiatives on campus that help all students feel included on campus,” Martin-Stanley II says. “In a perfect world, I would want a dual role where I can both teach in a higher education program as well as work in a leadership role in an office similar to the Center for Diversity and Enrichment or the African American Cultural Center here at the UI.”

Martin-Stanley II says he is honored to have been selected for the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award and looks forward to spending his last year on campus continuing to serve and uplift others.

“To me, the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award is a reminder of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion on this campus, and I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute to Dr. Hubbard’s historical legacy,” Martin-Stanley II says.

Read this related story on Martin-Stanley II and his advisor, Professor Sherry Watt, who were both honored as part of the 103rd Hancher-Finkbine Medallions and Distinguished Student Leader Certificates Recognition.