Rutgers GSE CMSI

Learn More About the Key Figures in MSI History with CMSI’s #MSIOralHistories!

Contact: Brandy Jones
Telephone: 848-932-0788

New Brunswick, NJ, November 12, 2020 - The Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) is proud to present its latest initiative, “The Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Oral History Project.” This biographical series shares a glimpse into the lives of prominent scholars and leaders across the MSI landscape. 

Some of the featured leaders and scholars include James D. Anderson, author of The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935;  Johnnetta Cole, former President of Spelman and Bennett Colleges; Kiran Ahuja, former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Louis W. Sullivan, President Emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College. 

This initiative was born out of a class titled "Understanding Minority Serving Institutions in which students interviewed key figured in higher education who have led MSIs, work to advocate for MSIs’ inclusion in larger discussion within higher education, or conduct MSI-related research. These important individuals range from faculty in higher education to MSI presidents to those working within nonprofit organizations that support MSIs.   

"Understanding Minority Serving Institutions is one of my favorite courses to teach and I could tell this particular project was really exciting to the students. I'm grateful to the leaders and scholars who spent time talking with the students and sharing their stories," noted Executive Director of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions and Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor Marybeth Gasman. 

Students learned a lot and were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with key figures in the world of MSIs. "It was an absolute joy to interview these prominent figures who are doing amazing work on MSIs. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to capture the personal experiences that have shaped them into the scholars they are today," said Pearl Lo, one of the student authors. Likewise, Dorothy Villarreal, another student author, shared, "It was important to me to be a part of a project that actively works against the erasure of the important contributions of women of color in academia. The opportunity to learn from trailblazers like Deborah Santiago and Kiran Ahuja came at a pivotal moment. As a first-generation, Latina immigrant in academia, I've often felt alone in higher education. This project helped me re-write that narrative -- we have been here before, shaped our institutions, and will continue to do so.”

Speaking of her work with interviewing HBCU scholar Felecia Commodore and former president Johnnetta Cole, student author Brittany Robertson stated, "It was a wonderful experience speaking with such accomplished and esteemed leaders and scholars. I felt a responsibility to tell their stories, accurately, fully, and respectfully. Throughout our conversations, I learned so much from them about leadership, sisterhood, and service."

This series comes out during a time when MSIs are more important than ever. In addition to publishing these stories, CMSI will be running a month-long social media campaign (#MSIOralHistories) to highlight not only those featured in the oral histories but the authors that created them. 

These histories can be found here.

Thursday, November 12, 2020
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