Frequently Asked Questions
What are MSIs?
Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) are federally defined institutions whose mission is to serve minority populations. Although other categories do exist, for this purposes of this program, they include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSIs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). MSIs are well known for their role in serving minority students, educating more than one-third of the nation’s students of color.
Is there no role for the Student Affairs or Student Support Services staff in this initiative?
Student Affairs and Student Support Services offices have been, and will continue to be, key drivers for first-generation student success. However, for this initiative, we are particularly interested in the role faculty should play in fostering first-generation student success. Therefore, while Student Affairs and Student Support Services can have a role in this initiative, this role must be secondary to and supportive for the faculty-led, classroom-based components.
Why is there a compelling need for this program?
First-generation college students have risk factors that impede college access and success, including lower levels of academic preparation, lower levels of parental engagement in the college-going process, and less academic confidence. As a result, these students are less likely to participate in academic and social activities associated with success in college, such as studying in groups, participating in extracurricular activities, and using support services. The challenges faced by first-generation students is reflected in poor retention rates—according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, a first-year retention rate of 72 percent and second-year retention rate of 51 percent compared to 76 percent and 60 percent respectively for non-first-generation students—with the success gap between first-generation students and their non-first-generation counterparts increasing over time.
MSIs play an important role in educating first-generation students. According to data from NCES’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, approximately 41 percent of students enrolled at MSIs are first-generation, as opposed to 30 percent of students at predominately white institutions. Because of their overrepresentation of first-generation students, MSIs are ideally situated to improve retention and persistence gaps for these students.
What is the IHEP Summer Academy?
The IHEP Summer Academy is a five-day, team-based planning retreat that helps institutions create transformational campus change plans. At the Summer Academy, the teams worked with consultants with expertise in the teams’ areas of focus to refine their ideas and craft sustainable, comprehensive student success programs. Each institutional team attending the Summer Academy was drawn from members of the institution’s implementation team and was led by the campus’s senior academic administrator. Systematic and strategic use of data was a critical element of campus change work initiated through the project. Because campus infrastructure for data collection, analysis, and use is still in development at many MSIs, the project provided assistance to campuses and encouraged them to draw from a range of national and campus-specific datasets to inform their work. This data was used prior to, during, and following the Summer Academy to inform institutional work.
What is the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education and what is its role in the project?
The Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, a program managed by IHEP, was established in 1999 by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) to represent the shared interests of Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Combined, MSIs represented by AIHEC, HACU and NAFEO, educate more than one-third of all students of color in the United States.
Only institutions that are recognized members of an Alliance for Equity in Higher Education organization wert eligible for participation in the Walmart Minority Student Success Initiative. Presidents from each of the three Alliance organizations, or their designees, also served alongside project consultants as members of the Walmart Minority Student Success Initiative Advisory Council and will participate in the institutional selection process.
Has there been any past involvement of IHEP in minority student access and success in higher education?
IHEP has a strong record of managing programmatic initiatives focused on increasing access and success for underserved student populations, especially at MSIs. Through its work with the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, IHEP has developed expertise in issues critical to the success of MSIs and the student they serve. For example, through the Building Engagement and Attainment for Minority Students (BEAMS) project, IHEP facilitated the development and implementation of data-driven initiatives to improve student success at over 100 four-year MSIs. IHEP’s research agenda has also included a focus on MSIs. Some recent MSI, and minority-student, specific reports include The Path of Many Journeys: The Benefits of Higher Education for Native People and Communities and Educating the Emerging Majority: The Role of Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities in Confronting America's Teacher Crisis.
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