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Deeper Dive Panelists Discuss MSIs as Drivers of Educational Equity at #AACTE22

Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) as Drivers of Educational Equity Panel

The “Minority Serving Institutions as Drivers of Educational Equity” Deeper Dive session at this year’s Annual Meeting provided insight on the essential role minority serving institutions (MSIs) play in providing postsecondary access to students of color, preparing diverse educators for the workforce, and increasing the economic mobility of low-income, first-generation college students. The session focused on unique programs, supports, and partnerships that these institutions offer to attract and prepare diverse teachers. The panel for the session included deans from four MSI schools or colleges of Education: J. Fidel Turner (Clark Atlanta University), Chinaka DomNwachukwu (California State University-San Bernardino), Stephen Silverman (Florida Atlantic University), and Denelle Wallace Alexander (Norfolk State University).

Minority serving institutions refer to higher education institutions that serve a significant percentage of students from minority groups. These institutions include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs), tribal colleges and universities (TCU), and Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander serving institutions (AANAPSI).

The Need for MSIs 

The increasing racial and ethnic diversity in elementary to college classrooms in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018) necessitates the existence of MSIs that would be able to prepare teachers of color to better serve this changing student demographic. The Bellewether Education Partners (2019) reported that not only do educators of color tend to be more effective than other teachers at raising the academic performance and graduation rates of students of color, but also that most students preferred teachers of color to their White counterparts. Further, teachers of color educated at MSIs are more likely to serve as heads of their department than those trained at predominantly White institutions (PWIs).

Though few in number, MSIs play a vital role in the preparation of teachers from minority groups. HBCUs only account for 3% of the colleges and universities in the United States yet they train 50% of the country’s Black teachers. Only two HSIs train 90% of the country’s Latinx teachers. Three of the top 10 producers of Native American teachers are TCUs. And five of the top10 producers of AAPI teachers are AANAPISIs.

Culturally Responsive Strategies for Recruiting Diverse Students

The deans shared some of the culturally responsive strategies they use for recruiting diverse students as the following:

  • High School Recruitment Programs: Florida Atlantic University organizes programs that pair its teacher candidates with high school students who have expressed interest in becoming teachers.
  • Dual Enrollment: Florida Atlantic University also allows high students to simultaneously pursue their high school and college degrees.
  • Advertisement/Word of Mouth: Clark Atlanta University has found that its successful graduate alumni have been very instrumental in recommending and recruiting new students. Florida Atlantic University advertises the extensive support they provide for first-generation students who enroll.
  • Virtual and Campus Visits: Clark Atlanta University organizes virtual open houses to reach a majority of students, so they do not have to travel long distances to visit the campus. Florida Atlantic University provides opportunities to visit the campus physically and virtually.

How COVID-19 has impacted Recruitment Strategies and Enrollment 

California State University faced decline in undergraduate enrollment but an increase in graduate enrollment in masters, credentials, and doctoral programs. The university also allows students to attain credentials in the subjects they take in college without having to write exams. 

Norfolk State University fine-tuned their recruitment strategies and applied for grants to help them provide better services to their students. The university provided laptops to students and resources for their faculty to teach online. The university organized virtual campus tours, virtual one-on-one with the dean and faculty, and promoted a culture of care, which included helping stranded students get home at the beginning of the pandemic. The university sought students’ opinion on their needs and how the university could better serve the students.

Addressing Challenges Posed by COVID-19 on Recruitment Strategies and Enrollment in MSIs

Norfolk State University secured funding to help students with expenses related to textbooks, licensure exams, and is in the process of securing more funding to pay students a stipend during their teaching practicum. The university organized a summer bridge program to help their students pass their licensure examination and provided opportunities for students to go on trips to become acquainted with the diverse populations with whom they may work.

Florida Atlantic University acclimates students with the campus by advising staff to connect with students prior to coming to the campus. They launched a program that motivates students to graduate within 4 years so they can save on educational costs. They provide scholarships to help students during their teaching practicum. They support their students during their Florida Teaching Exam by paying for the students’ practice tests. They provide bootcamps on writing and math to help their students prepare for their general knowledge test in the teaching certification exam.

Clark Atlanta University has established a Caring Closet that provides personal supplies and resources that students can pick up or have shipped to them. 

Supports and Services Provided to Retain and Ensure Successful Completion of Teacher Candidates

Some examples of supports include:

  • The Power of Partnerships: California State University emphasized the importance of partnership with the teacher candidates. They established Project Impact to target and recruit African American and Hispanic males for the K-12 classrooms. All the universities work with school districts to improve teacher candidate retention and to recruit teacher candidates as they graduate.
  • Mentoring: California State University mentors its teachers into the first and second year of employment. Norfolk State University provides mentoring to its students not only during their studies but also after graduation.
  • Representation: Norfolk State University recognizes the power of representation and have assigned male teachers to recruit male students.
  • Professional Development: Clark Atlanta University provides continuous professional development to its students.
  • Financial Support for Students: Florida Atlantic University established the Accelerated Adoption into Teaching program that supports teacher candidates in the classroom; the teacher candidates receive a teaching support stipend. Clark Atlanta University also provides financial support such as Federal Teaching Grant to their students.


Bellewether Education Partners. (2019). 10 years of Bellwether: A case for nuance. https://2019.bellwethereducation.org

U.S. Census Bureau. (2018, December 11). More than 76 Million students enrolled in U.S. Schools, Census Bureau Reports [Release Number CB18-192]. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/school-enrollment.html#:~:text=Of%20just%20the%20current%20undergraduate,black%2C%20and%2011.2%20percent%20Asian.


Thelma Quardey Missedja is a third-year year doctoral candidate in instructional technology and Holmes Scholar at Ohio University.


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