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Scholars of Minority-Serving Institutions Remain Dedicated, Enthusiastic and Passionate About Their Research


My very favorite aspect of being a faculty member is the work I get to do with new scholars. This past week at the American Education Research Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans, my colleague Clif Conrad of the University of Wisconsin and I hosted a lunch for new scholars. The focus was on research related to Minority Serving Institutions. As we all know, these institutions are growing rapidly (especially the Hispanic Serving Institutions and Asian American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions). MSIs also are doing the lion’s share of the work when it comes to educating students of color. That said, it is vital that we know more about MSIs

During the luncheon, Clif and I asked the young scholars to share their research interests and also their reason for doing research on MSIs. What resulted was a rich exchange and the discovery (on my part) that we have some amazing young scholars among us who should be tapped to help us understand the work that MSIs are doing.

Taryn Ozuna at the University of Texas, Rebecca Villareal at the University of Maryland and Dina Maramba and Robert Palmer at SUNY-Binghamton are interested in the experiences of Hispanic or Asian students at historically Black colleges and universities. Both of these populations are growing on HBCU campuses but we know very little about these students’ experiences.

In the room, there also was a great deal of interest around issues of success at Hispanic Serving Institutions. Laura Cortez at the University of Texas-El Paso is doing research on Hispanic students at HSIs along the Texas border. And Gina Garcia at UCLA is doing a comparison of emerging HSIs (those with fewer than 25 percent Hispanic students on their campuses) and traditionally White institutions.

Amy Fann of the University of North Texas is doing research related to tribal colleges and universities, specifically exploring how tribes are managing the higher education process for American Indian students.

Tafaya Ransom at the University of Pennsylvania, Valerie Lundy-Wagner at New York University, Terrell Strayhorn at Ohio State University, Kim Griffin at Penn State and Brian Burt at the University of Michigan all are doing work related to minorities in the STEM fields. In particular, they are looking at the role that HBCUs play in preparing students for success in graduate STEM programs.

Lastly, Steve Mobley and Noah Drezner at the University of Maryland, Brian McGowan at Indiana University, James Ellis at the University of Michigan, Anya Johnson at the University of Mississippi and Samaad Keys at the University of Georgia are all interested in the complex experiences of students at HBCUs — both traditional students and those that are often overlooked, such as gay and lesbian students.

There were several other young scholars attending the luncheon in addition to those mentioned above — they were all enthusiastic and passionate about their work. Given their dedication to the craft of research and their innovative spirits, I think that we will have a good start in terms of the research that we need to better understand the strengths and challenges of Minority Serving Institutions in the 21st century. I urge you to seek these young scholars out and find out more about their important and innovative research agendas.

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