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Educating A Diverse Nation: How Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) Strive For Student Success

College students are the most ethnically and racially diverse in the nation's history. The challenge that many colleges are facing is how to provide the diverse student population the same opportunities to learn. Clifton Conrad and Marybeth Gasman (2015) wrote in there book "Educating a Diverse Nation" that it is unquestionable that universities have struggled to provide equal access to educational opportunities" (p. 17). Colleges and universities have put an emphasis on providing a diverse and inclusive environment, but have failed to support all of the student populations at their institutions. The authors stated that providing opportunities does not involve convincing diverse students to attend their institution; it lies within the institution understanding the needs of the students and provide the proper resources to the students.

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There is a need for new ideas.

Being innovative is an extremely important skill in many fields, including student affairs. With student populations constantly changing, student affairs professionals must be innovative to provide educational resources to their students. Colleges and universities have to work evolve and change with the students who attend the institutions. While all institutions strive to provide opportunities for all students, some institutions were created to focus on certain populations.

MSIs are culturally relevant.

Minority-serving institutions are designed with the needs of the minority students they serve. These institutions not only provide educational opportunities, but also provide culturally relevant opportunities. The missions of these institutions are developed with the students in the center. Conrad and Gasman (2015) stated that "MSIs share an overarching commitment to ensuring access to higher education and making college a meaningful experience for minority students. By keeping minority students at the center of the institution, the administrators can challenge themselves and the institution to ensure that all actions are benefiting those students.

The programs that the institution hosts are culturally relevant. Conrad and Gasman concluded that MSIs are committed to providing their students with supportive services, educational opportunities, and an inclusive environment and staff. MSIs put a focus on inclusive programming to help minority students know that they are valued. By providing programs specifically geared towards students who identify in a minority group can help those students learn how the institution is supporting them.

There are different types of MSIs

1. Tribal Colleges and Universities

Tribal colleges and universities offer educational opportunities from a Native American perspective. Most TCUs are located on or around reservations. Many are accredited institutions.

2.Hispanic-Serving Institutions:

Most HSIs were not created as a Hispanic-serving institution. HSIs provide access for diverse students. HSIs enroll students who historically would not have completed college. HSIs are fighting to gain more resources that will help them support their students.

3. Historically Black Colleges and Universities

HBCUs have been around since the Civil War. While many historically black colleges and universities were created to bring Christianity to freedmen, HBCUs have grown into a strong force in MSIs. Many students choose HBCUs for the supportive environment and the resources available to the students.

4. Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions

Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AAPIs) are fairly recent. AAPIs support students that have needs similar to the students at other MSIs.

MSis share a dual purpose in higher education. MSIs work to help provide minority students with the means to be successful in college and advocate for these students.


CONRAD, C., & Gasman, M. (2015). Educating a diverse nation: Lessons from minority-serving institutions. Cambridge, MA: HARVARD UNIV Press.

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