Many schools and colleges have long-term relationships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the country. In an effort to increase graduate student applications from MSIs, the Rackham Graduate School will convene a working group to establish a coordinated strategy for supporting MSI initiatives in individual schools and colleges. In pursuit of this goal, the group will develop an approach for cultivating new alliances and enhancing existing partnerships with MSIs and will create a process for funding MSI initiatives within individual units.

Year Four Progress

With support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and co-sponsored by the National Forum for the Public Good in Higher Education and the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), Rackham hosted a Minority Serving Institution disciplinary hub meeting. The session supported three U-M units in advancing their relationships and discipline-specific goals with 12 collaborators from eight different MSIs. With its working group and resource-sharing format, this convening served as an excellent foundation for future gatherings.

Although a continuing working group has not yet been established, we have learned much about how grant recipients are leveraging their Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) outreach funding, other resources, and relationships within and outside of U-M to cultivate new alliances and build graduate school pathways. For example, a collaboration among Political Science, Rackham and Jackson State University (JSU) made it possible for a cluster of JSU students to participate in the U-M Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) this past summer. We are also developing a toolkit to support the creation of new alliances and working to enhance existing partnerships.

In Year Three, Rackham also collaborated with the Provost’s Office to launch the MSI Outreach and Collaboration Grant competition. This initiative provides seed funding to support programs in recruiting students from MSIs to the U-M through faculty, staff and student collaboration, resource sharing and sustained relationships. The program offers two types of competitive awards. Outreach and Planning Gants support U-M and MSI institutions in developing effective plans for communication, and for collaborating on small activities that can be scaled. Collaboration and Implementation Grants strengthen relationships through more formalized structures, implementation of larger, scalable activities and development of an evaluation and outcomes plan.

In the spirit of continuous improvement and to help inform future development of the MSI Initiative, in Year Four, Rackham conducted eight faculty interviews between May 29 and June 18, 2020.Faculty members shared their experiences and valuable lessons learned when working with the MSI Initiative, attending the MSI Summit, and receiving MSI grant funding. A set of recommendations for program development is forthcoming based on these faculty interviews.

Responsibility: Rackham Graduate School