MSU expands services to meet increasingly diverse student population

  • Photo: MSU students
As Morehead State University dedicates itself to being “a light to the mountains” for the people in Eastern Kentucky, it also wants to serve a student population that’s continually becoming more and more diverse.

Our Eagles have different cultural and social backgrounds and come to us from across the country and around the globe. MSU is continuing to make an even greater effort to support diverse students, empower them to achieve academic success and receive an all-around great college experience.

Over the last three years, the University has seen a 54 percent increase in the diverse student population, according to Jerel Benton, minority retention coordinator at MSU. As the campus community continues to change, MSU has created and expanded its offerings.

“We have to address the retention of diverse students in non-traditional and creative ways, so it makes our services unique and very interesting,” said Michelle Barber, director of academic advising and retention at Morehead State.

One of the most popular and effective resources for diverse students is MSU’s DREAMS mentoring program, which targets underrepresented minority students but is open to all students. It partners them up with a faculty or staff member who will meet with the student at least once a month and serve as their guide through their first year of college, helping them stay focused academically while encouraging them to become active in campus life.

“We’ve seen more of our diverse students getting engaged in other student organizations and we’re also helping them develop their leadership skills on campus,” said Charles Holloway, chief diversity officer at MSU.

Mentoring programs like DREAMS produce student leaders who go on to serve in organizations like the Multicultural Leadership Caucus (MLC), an umbrella organization for students of color to come together in a constructive way to voice concerns while providing both academic support and social programming.

“By having a place like MLC, where minority students can then be leaders on campus and get involved and feel connected to the University, I think that’s helped in retention,” said Shante Hearst, coordinator of student organizations, leadership development and Greek life at MSU.

Morehead State believes the word “diverse” encompasses many different kinds of students within the Eagle population. This includes the campus’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community, and ALLYance is a student organization that has made a noticeable impact, both as a place where LGBT students can come together and support each other, and as a group that has become what Hearst refers to as “climate changers” within their campus.

“It became a place LGBT people could feel safe,” Hearst said. “They are continuing to enhance the culture of MSU being a place where these students, especially from rural areas, feel comfortable.”

We make numerous accommodations and provide valuable resources for disabled students to ensure they have both equal access and opportunity. Our Office of Disability Services offers student programs, activities and services for students with various disabilities.

We have staff dedicated to working with both adult and veteran students while offering various programs and services to ease the transition into college life. As the world continues to discover Morehead State, our International Student Services office is there to assist with documentation and up-to-date immigration counseling to help international students achieve their academic goals.

For students that have any issues regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or socioeconomic status, MSU’s Eagle Ally program allows specially trained faculty and staff to serve as resources and advocates for all students.

“I’m very much of the mindset that we shouldn’t have to put ourselves in silos where we can only talk to specific people,” said Kevin Koett, assistant vice president/dean of students at MSU. “The whole idea of Eagle Ally is that a student can come in and talk to us about anything.”

MSU has countless student organizations on campus where Eagles of varying backgrounds can meet with others who have a shared experience and the University continues to make positive strides in the way it accommodates diverse students.

“We try to be very creative and strategic in how we administer the services we provide but we intently take a look at what the students need academically and what they say they want and need,” Barber said. “MSU does truly want to hear what the students think, what they believe and what they want and then we try to act on it.”

For more information on MSU’s services for diverse students, call 606-783-2022 or visit