Michael Walker to Serve as Keynote for National School Counseling Week Address at UW-River Falls Michael Walker

January 29, 2015— Michael Walker, head of the Office of Black Male Student Achievement for Minneapolis Public Schools and a University of Wisconsin-River Falls alumnus, will be the keynote speaker Monday, Feb. 2, at UW-River Falls in celebration of National School Counseling Week. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, is from 6:45-8 p.m. in the Kinnickinnic Theater in the University Center. After Walker's speech, there will be a brief question and answer session. 

A former basketball coach and assistant principal, Walker is the first director of the novel public school department, which was created to narrow one of the widest achievement gaps between black and white male students in the nation. Concern over the demographics' lagging graduation rates and college readiness is growing in school districts across the country, particularly Minneapolis, where traditionally black male students are eight times more likely than whites to be suspended, but 30 percent less likely to graduate, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

Nationally, President Obama has made the issue a key part of his presidency by establishing the My Brother's Keeper program and soliciting more than $200 million in private donations for tutoring programs, targeted instruction initiatives and other events to improve academic outcomes for African-Americans. 

Caroline Baker, UWRF professor in counseling and school psychology, said students in the School Counseling Student Association felt Walker's role in promoting black male achievement in schools was important and relevant for many in our community.  

"School counselors employ a unique set of skills to help every student succeed in academics, career planning and personal-social needs, all of which contribute to a successful school environment," Baker said. "This talk will enhance those skills for existing and future professionals."   

For more information about his visit to UWRF, contact Caroline Baker in Counseling and School Psychology at or call 715-425-3237.

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