Penn Graduate School of Education Launches Center for Minority-Serving Institutions at Penn With Town Hall Discussion

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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New Center Headed by Dr. Marybeth Gasman

Philadelphia, PA– Next week the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education will launch a new research center, The Penn Center for Minority-Serving Institutions (CMSI). Dr. Marybeth Gasman, a historian and professor at the Graduate School of Education, has been named as director of this first-of-its-kind center, which is focused on furthering higher education for underrepresented populations. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, The Kresge Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Educational Testing Service, The Penn Provost's Office, and the Penn’s Excellence Through Diversity Fund have contributed a total of $2.5 million in funding to date. The opening kick-off will include a special Penn town hall discussion, Envisioning the Future of Minority Serving Institutions: Challenges and Opportunities, followed by a public reception.

“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 Penn GSE Dean Andy Porter. “I have no doubt that the Center will be making transformative contributions to minority-serving institutions.”

The Center for Minority-Serving Institutions (CMSI) brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Tribal Colleges and Universities; Hispanic-Serving Institutions; and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. It will serve as a central hub for research, data, best practices, emerging innovations, and ideas surrounding Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).

Upcoming projects include a state policy report on Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Alabama; policy reports on Texas and California and their growing MSI populations; an investigation of HBCUs as leaders and teachers in STEM education; a research effort aimed at understanding doctoral pipelines for Latinos; research on MSIs as Community Colleges vs. Community Colleges as MSIs; and the development of a media toolkit for MSIs. Additionally, the CMSI will begin taking applications for its new Fellows program, which will award $5,000 to selected scholars to stimulate research about MSIs.

The CMSI’s goals include elevating the educational contributions of Minority-Serving Institutions; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSI academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and bolstering efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities.

The official CMSI launch is Tuesday, January 21. It will be kicked off with a town hall meeting and panel discussion at 4 p.m. in the Terrace Room of Claudia Cohen Hall, 249 S. 36th St., on the University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philadelphia. 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 Service. The panel includes Cheryl Crazy Bull, executive director of the American Indian College Fund; Kalindi Doshi 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, the vice president for policy and research at Excelencia in Education. A reception will follow at 6 p.m. at the Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, located in St. Leonard’s Court, 3819-33 Chestnut St., Suite 140. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required (

Marybeth Gasman is a Professor of Higher Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise include the history of American higher education, historically black colleges and universities, minority serving institutions, African American leadership, and fundraising and philanthropy. In addition to her numerous academic publications, she is a regular contributor to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, US News, CNN, and on National Public Radio.

About Penn GSE

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit

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