On January 24, 2018, the University of Minnesota’s Asian Pacific American Resource Center (APARC) celebrated the grand opening of its new space in 311 Appleby Hall. The center uses the space to serve the U’s Asian American and Pacific Islander undergraduate populations.
APARC was established after Bic Ngo, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction (pictured), and Josephine Lee, a professor in the Department of English, Language and Literature received a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase services for Asian American students.
The grant came through the Department of Education’s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Program. The University of Minnesota joined the program in early 2016; this qualified the U as a federally recognized Minority Serving Institution, eligible for federal funding to help serve students in these categories.
Following are remarks by Ngo at the grand opening.
“The U’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) student populations reflect the state’s large AAPI population, which has the greatest concentration of AAPI in the U.S. interior, including the largest urban Hmong population in the world at 64,442. The state’s AAPI population is strikingly different from that of the U.S. as a whole, with 50.2 percent of them identifying as Southeast Asian. This is significant, because this means half of the AAPIs in Minnesota are refugees or children of refugees. Census data shows that Southeast Asian Americans have among the highest poverty rates and lowest educational attainment rates.
“The U’s AAPI students make up the largest undergraduate students of color on campus, and over half of our minority undergraduate students from the U.S. Nearly half (44 percent) of our AAPI students are first-generation college students; four out of five (84 percent) received financial aid; and 41 percent received federal Pell Grants.
“Research shows that ‘Half of Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students leave college without a degree, three to five times higher than East and South Asians.’ Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students face numerous educational challenges due to factors such as: being a racial minority, coming from an immigrant household, being low-income, and being first-generation college students.
“Our campus is very unique. As a top-tier research university, we have AAPI graduation rates that are lower than white and all other students, compared to the majority of other four -year colleges that received AANAPISI funding. That is, the majority of other AANAPISI funded four -year colleges have AAPI graduation rates that are greater than white and all other students. We believe the difference is reflective of the unique disparities faced by Minnesota’s and the U’s predominantly Southeast Asian population. The work of APARC is to carve out a space in the state’s top-tier public higher education institution to support the social, cultural, academic, and whole lives of the U’s AAPI students.
“We hope you’ll join us in this endeavor.”
Related Minnesota Daily story: Asian American resource center opens on UMN campus