Changing Higher Education: The Center for Minority-Serving Institutions at Penn

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto | | 215-898-4820January 15, 2014

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania is changing the higher education landscape.

After years of building connections and conducting research on how minority-serving institutions, or MSIs, serve a niche market and plow through barriers to access in higher education, Marybeth Gasman, a historian and professor in Penn’s Graduate School of Education, is set to head up the School’s new Center for Minority-Serving Institutions.

The new Center will officially launch on Jan. 21 with a town hall meeting, panel discussion and reception.

The Center enables Gasman to take her interest in MSIs to the next level of empowerment for historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and Asian-American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions.

“I hope that we will change the nation's view of MSIs,” Gasman said. “I want people to see them as nuanced and important to America's higher education.  I also hope the Center will encourage more young scholars, especially scholars of color, to do work related to MSIs and low-income students of color.”

Because MSIs enroll a substantial share of minority students, many of whom might not otherwise attend college, researchers say their success is critical to economic development and achieving the nation’s higher education and workforce goals.

"Bringing MSIs together through the Center will capitalize on their strengths and provide a venue through which MSIs can learn from each other, share student success strategies and work jointly together to optimize resources and secure additional support," Gasman said. “One of the most exciting aspects of the Center is our support for young scholars interested in doing research related to MSIs. We are thrilled to be able to support their research and provide opportunities."

“We are very proud of this new Center, and Marybeth’s unflagging efforts to create better access and equity for students in higher education,” said Andy Porter, dean of the Penn Graduate School of Education. “I have no doubt that the Center will be making transformative contributions to Minority-Serving Institutions.”

The official launch will take place on Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. with a town hall meeting and panel discussion in Claudia Cohen Hall, 249 S. 36th St. A reception following the panel will be held at the Center, located in St. Leonard’s Court, 3819-33 Chestnut St., Suite 140.

Gasman will serve as the co-moderator for “Envisioning the Future of Minority-Serving Institutions: Challenges and Opportunities,” along with Michael T. Nettles, the senior vice president of Educational Testing Services.

The panel includes Cheryl Crazy Bull, executive director of the American Indian College Fund; Neil Horikoshi, president of the Asian & Pacific Islander American College Fund; Karl Reid, senior vice president for research, innovation and member college engagement at the United Negro College Fund; and Deborah Santiago, vice president for policy and research at Excelencia in Education.

The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required via email: