MSI Educators Enroll in ELEVATE, a Faculty-Development Program Hosted by the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

Our innovative faculty-development program, ELEVATE, helps early-career faculty working at or for MSIs. Completely free of charge, the program supports MSI Fellows from around the country.

Philadelphia, June 17, 2015—The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions’ (CMSI) inaugural faculty-development program, ELEVATE, launches today and will support early-career faculty members working at MSIs. Offered free of charge to invited fellows, the 3-day program will provide a full array of workshops, seminars, and resources to its participants.

Led by CMSI researchers and senior faculty mentors who have firsthand experience working at or with MSIs, ELEVATE will present its 18 fellows a rare and valuable opportunity to network with experts in the field. Speakers will discuss topics that include grant writing, publishing, teaching and research practices, how to advance in the academy, design thinking, op-ed writing, work-life balance, and fundraising.

“Our fellows will have the distinct advantage of learning from faculty of color who have achieved tenure and found professional success on the other side,” said Paola ‘Lola’ Esmieu, ELEVATE’s lead organizer and Assistant Director for Programming at CMSI. “This is especially important for those who don’t have the same access to resources or support as faculty at majority institutions.”

The program will also supply its fellows with inventive alternatives to supplement traditional models of academic success. For example, ELEVATE’s “Design Thinking” workshop seeks to empower fellows to become more innovative and impactful educators. The workshop is based on Design Thinking for Educators, a toolkit developed by the award-winning global design firm IDEO.

“Design Thinking is about adapting complex challenges into productive conversations and discovering unexpected solutions,” said Andrés Castro Samayoa, a Ph.D. research student at CMSI who will lead the session. “It injects new life into old problems because it is fundamentally creative and collaborative,” he added.

Indeed, one of ELEVATE’s primary goals is to facilitate collaboration among its participants and, by extension, their home institutions. Participants come from a diversity of MSIs such as Fayetteville State University (an HBCU), Diné College (a Tribal College), and California State University, Fresno (both an AANAPISI and HSI).

“By elevating these faculty, we’re also elevating their ability to have an impact on their home institutions and students. We’re preparing them for a lifetime of service at MSIs,” said Marybeth Gasman, director of CMSI and one of ELEVATE’s speakers. “Fostering faculty collaboration between various MSIs is one pathway to mutual success, and ELEVATE will unlock that door.”

In addition to its workshops, ELEVATE includes a variety of networking luncheons and dinners where faculty will have ample opportunity to form partnerships and forge friendships. Working together, these faculty will have the chance to fulfill ELEVATE’s goals to Enrich Learning, Enhance Visibility, And Train Educators.

“At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring a level playing field for these faculty and making sure they leave equipped with a full toolbox to be excellent researchers and teachers,” added Esmieu, who hopes to build ELEVATE into a flagship program for years to come.

Visit CMSI’s website for a full program description and list of fellows’ profiles.


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


About the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at the University of Pennsylvania 

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals, unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit