Moving MCAE Forward

Students at 2015 MCAE Kick-Off

By Shakeer A. Abdullah, Ph.D, assistant vice president, Office for Equity and Diversity; originally posted on the U of M Campus Climate website

What is the Multicultural Center For Academic Excellence? MCAE is a hybrid academic support and engagement center that connects students to campus and provides culturally relevant academic and social support and coaching.

This past year has been full of change for MCAE, with the summer marking the transition of MCAE’s leadership and other staff. These personnel changes have given us the opportunity to reimagine what MCAE can be.

MCAE has been a staple for students—particularly students of color, American Indian students and first generation students—for the past 10 years. Its historical origins lie in ethnic and culture-specific centers that were housed in Klaeber Court and other spaces on campus. As we move MCAE forward, we do so with a nod to the past and with gratitude for all of our predecessors and those who have shaped MCAE and positively impacted the lives of all the students who have been a part of this important history.

MCAE will maintain its student-focused philosophy, but will also focus on intersection of identities while promoting interactional diversity and using academic success strategies that have been proven successful for diverse, under-resourced, and first generation students. MCAE has long focused on academics, outreach, and engagement. In addition to these vital areas, MCAE will also focus on alumni making, career advancement, identity development, leadership development, and global citizenship. None of this can be done in a vacuum, and there is no expectation that it will be done alone. MCAE looks forward to partnering with students, faculty, staff, and the community as we continue to support student success.

MCAE will be deliberate in assessing the successes and challenges of its students and will rely on best practices and research to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.

Over the past three years, MCAE has seen an increase in the number of first-year students who have attended the MCAE Kickoff, and we are hopeful that we can increase these numbers even more. Every year we celebrate our academic all-stars and provide support for the students who strive for their best.

In the past several weeks, we have held multiple open forums on and off campus to discuss the MCAE Forward model. While we appreciate the support we have received from partners and allies, it is important to note that we have also heard the concerns raised by members of our communities. Searches are also under way for a new MCAE director and the staff who will serve as multicultural associates. Change is hard, but at this moment, change is necessary for MCAE to be able to more effectively support and empower some of our most underrepresented and most promising students.

[Photo credit: Touchaing Yang, 2015]

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