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CMSI Releases New Report on Presidential Engagement at Minority Serving Institutions

Philadelphia, Pa., July 24, 2018— In March 2018, the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) released an infographic exploring Minority Serving Institution (MSI) presidents and their use of Twitter as a tool to further engage their student population.

Today, CMSI has published the larger report – from which the infographic was pulled– on MSI presidential engagement. The new report explores the ways that presidents engage with students, using traditional means as well as social media.

“There has been relatively no data on presidents and student engagement at MSIs; this report aims to create a dialogue on how MSI presidents are engaging their students,” said Marybeth Gasman, the Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor and Director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

The report begins with a foreword from one of the most engaged MSI presidents, Walter Kimbrough of Dillard University, a historically Black college in New Orleans. Kimbrough recounts how an attempt to engage students post-Hurricane Harvey resulted in an institutional evaluation of overall student engagement and its effectiveness. He uses this anecdote to assert the value of finding creative and institution-specific ways for leaders to better engage their students.

This presidential engagement report hopes to spark discussion on how presidents can better engage their students, provide presidential best practices for leaders seeking to increase their student engagement, and spur research on the impact of presidential engagement on institutional goals and educational outcomes,” shares Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University. 

The report also provides an audit on how MSI leaders have engaged their students in the past. The report lists service and social event attendance, photo opportunities, one-on-one interaction, family-oriented support, and social media as strategies that presidents have employed to create meaningful interactions with their students on campus. The report then transitions into a detailed discussion of social media engagement, highlighting presidential outliers who have effectively used the platform to build relationships with constituents, cultivate community on campus, and bolster non-traditional spaces for institutional dialogue.

The report concludes with recommendations on how MSI presidents can increase student engagement via social media as well as more traditional methods.

Full copies of the report are freely available on CMSI’s website here.

About The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions
The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The Center’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; 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 MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. For further information about the Center, please visit

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
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