MSU Support Programs’ New Direction TO AID Underrepresented Student Populations

MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY – Mississippi State University (MSU) has taken a significant step towards enhancing student success and fostering inclusivity on campus through the merger of three vital student support programs. Under the newly established Office of Academic Access & Support, the university aims to provide comprehensive assistance to underrepresented students and empower them to achieve their academic goals.

The Office of Academic Access & Support, housed within the Division of Access Diversity and Inclusion, brings together three historically impactful programs that have guided underrepresented students toward success at MSU. These programs include TRiO Student Support Services, the MSU Thrive Scholars Program, and the Promise Program.

TRiO Student Support Services, a grant-funded initiative, offers personalized support services to first-generation, limited-income, and students with disabilities. Its mission is to enhance academic skills, increase retention and graduation rates, and facilitate entrance into graduate and professional programs.

The MSU Thrive Scholars Program, also known as MSU Thrive, focuses on providing a supportive network and resources to promote academic success, professional development, and life skills. The program caters specifically to independent-status students who have experienced foster care, emancipation, homelessness, the loss of parents, or a combination of these challenges.

The Promise Program, or the Promise Student Support Program, is designed to provide academic, scholarship, and other forms of support to aid students throughout their MSU journey. With a focus on credit-hour classes, academic counseling, and monitoring student progress, the Promise Program aims to ensure the successful completion of baccalaureate degree programs.

The vision of the newly formed Office of Academic Access & Support is to create an inclusive campus environment that cultivates pathways for holistic development and engagement. The office seeks to embed the principles of access, diversity, and inclusion into its framework, advancing persistence, retention, and degree completion for first-generation, limited-income, and vulnerable student populations.

Ra'Sheda Boddie Forbes, previously MSU's assistant vice president for multicultural affairs, leads the Division of Access Diversity & Inclusion and now assumes the role of vice president for access, diversity, and inclusion. Forbes joins MSU's senior leadership team and will continue her valuable contributions to the university's Executive Council and President's Cabinet.

With the consolidation of these student support programs under the Office of Academic Access & Support, Mississippi State University reaffirms its commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive campus environment. By providing comprehensive services and support, the university aims to create pathways for academic success, career readiness, and degree completion for all students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. The Office of Academic Access & Support stands as a testament to MSU's dedication to inclusive excellence, ensuring that every student has the necessary tools and support to thrive during their time at the university.