General Education

The Role of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

The Role of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions
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Marybeth Gasman September 24, 2014

Marybeth Gasman explains the role of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, both on-campus and nationwide.

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The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions opened its doors on January 2, 2014 on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Our mission is to both support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) through funding opportunities and research, and to support scholars interested in the work that MSIs do.

All too often, MSIs are pushed to the side and not the focus of national discussions of higher education or equity. These institutions educate diverse student bodies, boasting many students of color and low-income students. At the Center, we highlight their successes and uncover the challenges that impede success. We offer a variety of opportunities to MSIs, including capacity-building grants to strengthen science and math, teacher education, and student postgraduate experiences. We also offer MSIs free tools to help bolster their reputation.

For those scholars interested in studying the contributions of MSIs, we provide both fellowships and research support grants. Moreover, we have an affiliates program at the Center that provides opportunities to established and emerging scholars. We highlight the work of our affiliates using traditional and social media. We also engage affiliates, as well as MSI partners, in research and programmatic projects.

The University of Pennsylvania community benefits from the presence of the Center on campus through our diverse array of programs. We’ll soon be hosting a conversation dedicated to African Americans, science, and medicine, featuring Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In the future, we will have a talk about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, hosted by Kiran Ahuja, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs. In addition to our programs, we currently employ four Ph.D. students, four master’s students, and two undergraduate students as research assistants. They each are learning high-level research skills and developing their talents in various areas.

Lastly, the Center contributes to national conversations about equity in higher education by testifying before Congress, assisting with forthcoming legislation, writing opinion essays for major news outlets, and speaking across the nation.


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