Minority Serving Institutions Initiative Coffee Chat Series

The coffee chat series will serve as a space for scholars and practitioners to share ideas, best practices, and other resources related to R1 and Minority Serving Institutions' (MSIs) relationships and mechanisms of support for students that transition from MSIs into R1 institutions for graduate and professional education. The series will highlight examples from U-M, exemplars from across the country, and scholars and practitioners that explore and implement practices that foster positive experiences and outcomes for students from MSIs.

This series is primarily intended for faculty and staff that have existing relationships with MSIs, or for those who do not but are interested in forming relationships, as well as graduate students who have interest in this topic.

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Heather McCambly, Assistant Professor of Critical Higher Education, University of Pittsburgh

Session Abstract:

There is abundant empirical evidence locating higher education policy and organizations as sites that (re)produce persistent racial inequities. These inequities are (re)created, in no small part, by the racialization of institutions that serve the greatest proportion of racially minoritized students—specifically, MSIs. As a category of racialized organization, contemporary theory predicts that MSIs would routinely suffer from lesser access to resources and agency, and would face more restrictive regulation and accountability (Ray, 2019; McCambly & Colyvas, forthcoming). Indeed, we can see these patterns routinely enacted across multiple mechanisms of public policy, even in the face of myriad DEI initiatives. But what types of actions can leaders or collectives take that diminish the relative advantages of white-serving institutions over MSIs? And how can we tell these actions apart from organizational claims to equity that simply produce more of the same?

In this talk, Dr. McCambly will engage with the community in conversation, sharing a construct she’s developing—racialized change work—to refer to the purposive action that actors take to build new, equitable organizational arrangements or tear down old, inequitable ones. McCambly will present examples and testable propositions for how racialized change work can spread (engagement), stick (institutionalization), and what effects it may have on producing equitable outcomes (impact).

Heather McCambly's Bio:

Heather McCambly is a mixed-methods, interdisciplinary scholar of higher education. She also studies the role of organizations in (re)producing systemic, racial inequalities. She draws on a range of analytic and interpretive methods to study the influence of aspiring change agents on institutionalized racial inequities in higher education policy. Constructs central to her work include racialized organizations, institutional persistence and change, racial frames, political development and racial backlash, and organizational sensemaking.

McCambly's current research asks: 1) What is and what could be the role of private philanthropy and public grantmaking in effecting racially just policy change in U.S. postsecondary education? and 2) Under what conditions do equity agendas address racialized inequalities rather than operating as new labels for old practices?

As a first-generation college student, a community college graduate, and a multi-ethnic Latina, she is personally invested in generating clearer explanations for how, despite years of equity interventions, students of color continue to have limited access to life-affirming postsecondary experiences.

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