College success for the underserved

Adams State University's new higher ed academic center provides a new venue for students
By: | Issue: February, 2017,
January 26, 2017

A newly formed academic center at Adams State University in Colorado aims to improve historically underserved and first-generation students’ chances of enrolling in and graduating from college.

Leaders at the National Center for Historically Underserved Students intend to provide a venue where educators who work with different minority groups can share effective success strategies, says Adams State’s president, Beverlee J. McClure.

The concept emerged when Adams State, the oldest Hispanic-serving institution in Colorado, hired a vice president who had worked at Alcorn State University, a historically black institution in Mississippi.

“We each seem to work in silos at our institutions because we’re so focused on our specific missions,” McClure says. “The idea was how we reach across and look at things we have in common.”

For example, underserved students have greater academic success and form stronger connections to their campuses when their colleges offer mentoring, she says.

With access, cost and student support leading the challenges facing all underserved students, McClure hopes the center’s work will inspire federal and state policies that will reduce the expenses of higher ed.

The center’s formation comes at a crucial time, McClure says, considering some of the anti-minority sentiment that surfaced during the presidential campaign.

“With some of our students and our families, there’s a fear,” she says. “We don’t want anyone at the federal level to lose sight of the fact that students, regardless of where they live, should be granted the same opportunity as everyone else.”