CIEE and Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions Announce Three-Year Partnership to Expand Study Abroad for Students of Color

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Tackling the race gap, CIEE and Penn CMSI commit to faculty training and development, workshops for presidents, and student scholarships for MSIs

The partnership between CIEE and Penn CMSI is an unprecedented effort to move the needle in a serious way around study abroad for students of color, and especially students at minority serving institutions.

Today CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange and The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (Penn CMSI) announce a three-year comprehensive strategy to increase study abroad at minority serving institutions (MSIs), including workshops for college presidents, faculty training programs, and student scholarships.

Research shows that students who study abroad have higher GPAs, are more likely to graduate on time, and are more attractive to employers that seek to hire candidates with intercultural competencies. However, there is a significant gap in the profile of those who study abroad versus the overall population of U.S. undergraduates. While students of color represent almost 40 percent of all undergraduates, they represent only 26 percent of those students who study abroad, including just 8.3 percent who are Hispanic and 5.6 percent who are black.

Recognizing the importance of senior leadership in addressing these gaps, in November 2015 CIEE and Penn CMSI gathered 10 presidents of leading minority serving institutions in Berlin, Germany, for an inaugural Study Abroad Leadership Workshop for Minority Serving Institutions to discuss the importance of exposing more students from MSIs to international education opportunities. Workshop participants agreed that study abroad must be adapted as part of a school’s overall culture in order to succeed in engaging more students of color in the practice. Such culture change, they determined, requires a multipronged effort that relies on engaging faculty, known to be key influencers in mentoring and guiding students.

After the strong endorsement on the impact of the workshop from the MSI presidents, CIEE and Penn CMSI have agreed to expand their partnership for three more years of programming, signing a memorandum of understanding to produce integrated training and support programs for key constituents at MSIs.

"Our partnership with CIEE is an unprecedented effort to move the needle in a serious way around study abroad for students of color, and especially students at minority serving institutions,” said Marybeth Gasman, professor and director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. “Through a comprehensive plan that engages MSI leaders, faculty, and students in the planning and facilitation of study abroad, we can bring vast learning opportunities to students who have longed to experience a larger world and enhance their learning.”

The partnership will include:

1.    President Workshops on International Education – CIEE and Penn CMSI will produce the Leadership Workshop for Minority Serving Institutions for two more years. The workshops will coincide with the 2016 and 2017 CIEE Annual Conferences in Los Angeles, California; and Austin, Texas.

2.    Faculty Training and Development Programs on International Education – CIEE and Penn CMSI will co-sponsor the ELEVATE conference, an annual program that brings together early career MSI faculty to further equip them with support, training, and an opportunity to create a close-knit network of peers. In addition, CIEE and Penn CMSI will co-sponsor MSI faculty to attend a special CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar in summer 2016, which will provide additional training and an introduction to best practices.

3.    Student Scholarships for Study Abroad – CIEE will donate all proceeds from its Annual Conference vendor fees to a scholarship fund that will be administered by Penn CMSI. Each year, Penn CMSI will award scholarships totaling at least $50,000 to students from MSIs who would not otherwise be able to study abroad.

“Expanding opportunities for global education is an imperative for university leaders across the country. Our experience indicates that the most successful colleges are those that have strong leadership advocating for international education, engaged faculty shaping programs that are appropriate for each institution, and students that have the support they need to participate,” said James P. Pellow, Ed.D., president and chief executive officer of CIEE and a Penn Graduate School of Education alumnus. “The opportunity to work with the nation’s leader in promoting best practices for education at MSIs is both a privilege and a powerful way to affect change.”

MSI presidents who attended the study abroad workshop in Berlin and who are working on this next phase of faculty engagement include: Wayne Frederick (Howard University), Joseph I. Castro (California State University-Fresno), Mildred Garcia (California State University-Fullerton), Henry Tisdale (Claflin University), Elmira Magnum (Florida A&M University), Vinton Thompson (Metropolitan College of New York), David Wilson (Morgan State University), George Wright (Prairie View A&M University), Michael J. Sorrell (Paul Quinn College), and Willie Larkin (Grambling State University).

Said Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, “As the world has become a more interconnected and smaller place, students from under resourced communities cannot afford to be left on the sidelines and marginalized in this new world order. The work that CIEE does in expanding the cultural and educational opportunities for all students is critically important and tremendously under appreciated. The Paul Quinn College community is extremely grateful for CIEE’s and Penn CMSI’s investment in our students and our faculty.”

About CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange
Founded in 1947, CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, serving more than 340 U.S. colleges and universities, 1,000 U.S. high schools, and more than 40,000 international exchange students each year. CIEE serves as a leading sponsor for the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program (the J-1 visa program), supporting exchanges with over 90 countries. In addition, CIEE operates 67 study centers in 45 countries, sponsors international faculty training programs, teach abroad programs, and various specialty and custom programs for secondary, post-secondary, and international students. Visit

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

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