History

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We are informed by our history. The Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) is one of the oldest and most comprehensive support programs in the nation. OMSA began, as the Special Educational Opportunity Program in the late 1960s to serve a newly admitted cohort of underrepresented students, now, known as "Project 500". Under pressure from student and community activists alike, the University of Illinois implemented Project 500 in 1968. Nearly 600 first-generation, low-income, and historically underrepresented students enrolled under the project’s auspices. After the success of Project 500, the university continued admitting underrepresented students, and OMSA continued providing those students the resources they needed for success.

In this way, OMSA has embodied Illinois’ land grand mission by championing access for all students and providing a comprehensive array of college preparatory and support services to bolster students’ success. Over the years, OMSA has served historically minoritized and marginalized students from across the country. OMSA works diligently to advocate for diversity, inclusion, and the establishment of a safe and welcoming community for all.

Although the campus has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, OMSA’s commitment to providing high-quality mentoring and academic support services to underrepresented students has endured. Today, the OMSA coordinates more than a dozen programs and services to improve the academic outcomes for students admitted via the Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), the President’s Awards Program (PAP), and students from historically underrepresented, first-generation, and economically disadvantaged communities.

For more information about our services, please visit one of our offices or contact us at omsa@illinois.edu.

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