New Report Brings Facts to Light on Minority Serving Institutions - Higher Education
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New Report Brings Facts to Light on Minority Serving Institutions

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by Gia Savage


The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) has released a new report that highlights the return on investment (ROI) on Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

The report outlines MSIs as, Asian American Native American Pacific Islander serving institutions, Alaska Native serving institutions, historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, predominantly Black institutions, tribal colleges and universities, Native American serving non-tribal institutions, and Native Hawaii serving institutions.

William Casey Boland

Collected throughout the 2016 year, the data-driven campaign utilized 52 data points for 52 weeks, to gather and highlight the contributions that MSIs make to higher education, that too often go overlooked. The data points were organized and reviewed by CMSI researchers.

“We hoped to convey with the campaign and the ensuing report the many ways that MSIs of all categories advance student success,” says William Casey Boland, a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and a research associate at CMSI. “It was important to demonstrate through data what these institutions do. This is critical now as policy makers and advocacy organizations tend to emphasize speaking in the language of numbers. Higher education institutions, beyond just MSIs, must learn to translate their accomplishments through statistics.”

Boland said “those pulling the purse strings” require definitive proof of a return on their investment. That applies to foundations and funders as well as state governments providing appropriations to public institutions.

The purpose of the national campaign was to “bring more attention to MSIs, highlight the contributions of MSIs among higher education practitioners and general audience, dispel common misperceptions about MSIs and motivate scholars to conduct more data-driven research related to MSIs.”

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“The stronger the research surrounding MSIs, the stronger MSIs are as they are armed with knowledge as to their contributions,” said Dr. Marybeth Gasman, the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor of Higher Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and director of CMSI. “MSIs educated 40% of all students of color — that’s a powerful fact and we need to realize their importance.  We also need to have research at our fingertips to share when others disparage MSIs.  Moreover, it’s important to begin with evidence when making the case for the importance of MSIs in higher education.”

The American Council on Education, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Educational Testing Service, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, and the Human Rights Campaign, are among the 16 organizations that partnered with CMSI to share the data points throughout their networks.

“Understanding the complex and unique return on investment for MSIs is essential as these institutions serve the new majority in higher education,” said Gasman. “There is much that we can all learn from their impact and approaches to student learning and community uplift.”

Significant findings from the 52 data points show that:

  • Minority Serving Institutions served 40 percent of underrepresented students, totaling approximately 3.8 million students or 26 percent of all college students in 2013-2014.
  • The number of eligible Hispanic Serving Institutions grew by 218 percent between 1990 and 2014 (137 to 435 institutions).
  • There are currently 307 eligible Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions in the United States with student bodies that are comprised of more than 48 different ethnicities.
  • Funding for Title III aid for institutional development programs, which support Minority Serving Institutions, declined from $651 million (2010) to $567 million (2013).
  • Of the top 20 institutions that award science and engineering degrees to Asians or Pacific Islanders, seven identify as Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.
  • More than a third of Black STEM Ph.D. holders earned their undergraduate degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • The 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities experienced a 9 percent growth in enrollment between 2002-2003 and 2012-2013, enrolling nearly 28,000 full- and part-time students.
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Boland says he hopes that the report dispels the myth that MSIs are ineffective and irrelevant.

“Despite most public MSIs operating amidst dire financial circumstances, the report shows that these institutions still carry out their mission to provide a quality education and to graduate their students. As the data demonstrates, many MSIs do a better job of serving lower income and students of color than non-MSIs.”

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