Andrews alumni display various flags during the Andrews University Homecoming Parade. [Photo credit: Josiah Morrow]

May 23, 2024

Minority Serving Institution Status Brings New Opportunities for Andrews

The United States Department of the Interior has once again designated Andrews University as a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) for its service toward various minority populations.

As a result of this identification, a $2.25 million grant has been awarded to Andrews by the US Department of the Interior to recruit more minority students. 

As defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Andrews University is now distinguished as one of 735 colleges and universities in the United States that provide various opportunities for minority students. This MSI status will be in effect from July 1, 2024–June 30, 2025. Andrews was also recently classified as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI).  

Padma Uppala, associate dean for research and creative scholarship and professor in the School of Population Health, Nutrition & Wellness, helped to secure the University’s standing as an MSI and was the grant proposal writer on behalf of the University. Uppala shares that the MSI distinction not only provides financial help to students but also contributes a portion of financial relief for Andrews as an organization. For the last several years, Andrews has also been eligible to accept Federal Pell Grants, designated for “undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need,” according to the Federal Student Aid’s website. Uppala notes that Andrews has either received an MSI designation or Pell Grant eligibility every year since 2019, which has allowed Andrews to compete for related grants.  

In the 2023–24 school year, Student Financial Services (SFS) recorded 282 student recipients of Pell Grants, which provided additional funds for less financially fortunate students. The MSI designation also offers partial financial alleviation for both the University and individual students. Cynthia Gammon, associate director of SFS, states, “The MSI title designation, received thanks to Padma and her application, allows Andrews University a waiver of the use of institutional funds. The amount of institutional funds we would have needed to spend [without this support] are $78,933 toward work-study and $83,064 toward SEOG [Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants] for the 2023-24 aid year.”  

Another potential benefit of the MSI distinction is partnering with the US Department of the Interior for volunteerism, diverse hiring and further grants and contracts. The MSI designation provides significant potential resources and services for the University and its students. For instance, Uppala elaborates that “there are several collaborations [available]. NASA has special collaborations if you are an MSI. We have to take the initiative to work with them, and then a lot of our students will have opportunities to do internships with them. Then they will promote those students to get jobs and be well-placed in other industries.”  

To maximize the benefits of this designation, Uppala would like to form a student council composed of minority student leaders to help promote the various existing opportunities and forge paths for new ones. Uppala proposes, “If we have a student council that is working with me and have an executive team of the provost and myself that meets once every month, we can explore all of these opportunities to tap into them.” 

Founded in 1874, Andrews University is a premier institution of higher education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and offers more than 150 areas of study, including advanced degrees. Its main campus is in Berrien Springs, Michigan, but the University also provides instruction at colleges and universities in more than 25 countries around the world. 

Andrew Francis, University Communication student writer