New book co-authored by Marybeth Gasman explores lesson from Minority Serving Institutions for a changing America

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

*Note for TV and radio: The University of Pennsylvania has an on-campus ISDN line and ready access to a satellite uplink facility with live-shot capability.

Join the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions and Penn Graduate School of Education for a conversation with authors Clifton Conrad and Marybeth Gasman in celebration of the release of their new book, Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at 4 p.m. at the Penn Bookstore, 36th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, April, 1, 2015 – Minority Serving Institutions have developed practices every college and university could learn from, according to professors Clifton Conrad and Marybeth Gasman, who explore those cutting-edge policies and practices in their new book, “Educating a Diverse Nation,” published by Harvard University Press. 

Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) inhabit a unique role in the landscape of American education by serving a high percentage of low-income minority students. Many of these students are the first in their family to attend college. To succeed, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) must innovate and experiment in ways that require a deep understanding of their population’s needs.

The authors studied 12 MSIs around the country, some targeting specific ethnic groups, and found new approaches to culturally relevant learning; real-world problem solving; and blurring the roles of faculty, staff, and students. They show how these innovations engage students while fostering skills to thrive on campus and beyond.

New York University’s Martha Kanter, a former U.S. Under Secretary of Education, praised the work for “providing important lessons to inform the rest of American higher education about high-quality, culturally relevant teaching and learning for the 21st century.” 

 “This book gives us a compelling narrative, filled with robust research, facts and recommendations to help colleges and universities better educate the growing population of Americans who will comprise the majority of college students in the decades ahead,” Kanter said. “Conrad and Gasman have made an extraordinary contribution in studying the work of exemplary MSIs to educate students for success in all walks of life and professions.”

Conrad, of the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and Gasman, of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, explore students’ stories of stress about financing their college educations, not feeling adequately prepared for university study, even the relevance of higher education in their lives. The authors visited the four main types of MSIs — Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander–Serving institutions (AANAPISIs) — to identify strategies for empowering nontraditional students to succeed in college despite the unique obstacles they face.

In the United States, 3.6 million undergraduate students — 20% of all undergraduates—enroll in MSIs.

  • HSIs represent only 6% of post-secondary institutions but enroll nearly 50% of all Latino students.
  • AANAPISIs represent less than 1% of all colleges and universities, yet enroll nearly 27% of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • While HBCUs represent just 3% of all colleges and universities, they enroll 8% of African American students.
  • TCUs represent less than1% of higher education institutions yet enroll almost 10% of Native American students

 “Now and for the foreseeable future, MSIs are making a highly significant contribution to our nation’s commitment to enhancing educational opportunity in higher education for our rapidly growing, racially and ethnically diverse population,” said Conrad, professor of higher education at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Minority and low-income students often face myriad academic, financial, political and personal challenges,” said Gasman, who directs the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. “If we, as a nation, truly want to lift up all deserving students so they can contribute to a burgeoning economy, we need to pay more attention to these students’ unique needs and the under-resourced MSIs that serve them.”

The insights that Conrad and Gasman bring to this important topic make “Educating a Diverse Nation: Lessons From Minority-Serving Institutions” a must-read for anyone who serves minority students from low-income households who may be the first in their families to attend college.

About the authors:

Clifton Conrad is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Marybeth Gasman is Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania.

Note for press: The authors are available for interview. To reach Professor Gasman, please contact the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions at 215-898-8956, or

For Professor Conrad, please contact 608-263-3411, or