In the News: Buffy Smith on Improving Access to Higher Education for Underrepresented Communities

Buffy Smith, dean of the University of St. Thomas Dougherty Family College (DFC), recently spoke with WCCO Radio about how DFC helps make a college degree more attainable for underrepresented students and their families.

From the story:

Dr. Buffy Smith, dean of Dougherty Family College, has been trying to get the word out about the “best-kept secret in Minnesota” since the school opened in 2017. “Yes, we have these wonderful supports. That’s magical. Yes, we are very intentional about making sure it’s affordable. That’s critical,” she said. “But the real magic, the real special sauce, is the community.”

Dougherty Family College is intentionally small; it admits between 150 and 170 first-year students. There’s room for 300 scholars total in the two-year program. ...

Dr. Smith, a former sociology professor whose research focused on obstacles faced by BIPOC first-generation college students, knows what students need to succeed – “a campus where they are culturally affirmed, where they are validated, where they can see themselves in their professors, in their staff, in the texts that they read, in the homework assignments.”

“When a scholar feels that this is their space, they can thrive,” said Smith, who was the first in her family to attend college. Eighty percent of the college’s students are also first-generation students; more than 94% are students of color.