Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Who Is Marybeth Gasman?

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Who Is Marybeth Gasman?

Article excerpt

People are surprised, and not always pleasantly so, to discover that Dr. Marybeth Gasman, one of the leading scholars on historically Black colleges and universities, is White. When she was a graduate student, one professor tried to steer her away from the topic, advising her that research of this nature would be "ghettoized."

He couldn't have been more wrong.

Gasman, an associate professor of higher education at The University of Pennsylvania and author of Understanding Minority-Serving Institutions, and Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund, crisscrosses the country monthly to give lectures, collect data and present research on topics emerging out of the nation's more than 100 HBCUs.

The author of more than 100 articles and book chapters, Gasman was recently tapped, along with Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., by The New York Times to guest blog about historically Black colleges, the often misunderstood institutions whose revelance is often questioned.

"One misconception is that Black college environments are not diverse. People say things like, why would you want to go to a Black college when there is no diversity? But there is a lot of diversity," says Gasman, noting the increasing enrollment of African, Caribbean, Latino, Asian and White students.

She also corrects the misperception that only a few of these institutions offer a quality education.

"An African-American woman wrote (to The New York Times blog) that there were only two really good Black colleges--Spelman and Morehouse," Gasman says. "Then she wrote in parenthesis and maybe Xavier and Hampton. I said those are really great institutions, but that's not true. There are many HBCUs that are offering a good education. And, I also said that there are some HBCUs that are not doing so well and I wouldn't recommend them just as I wouldn't recommend some historically White institutions."

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Gasman was recently elected vice president of the history and historiography section of the American Educational Research Association. She chairs the American Association of University Professors Committee on HBCUs and serves on the research advisory boards for the UNCF and Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund.

Gasman cultivated her interest in minority-serving institutions as a graduate student at Indiana University. …

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