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Postsecondary Teaching & Learning
206 Burton Hall
178 Pillsbury Dr. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Voice: 612-626-8705


Karen Miksch

Associate Professor

Postsecondary Teaching & Learning
331 Burton Hall
178 Pillsbury Dr S E

Office hours:
Wednesday & Thursday from 10:00 to Noon (undergraduates)
Wednesday from 3:00 to 5:00 (graduate students)
and by appointment (email is the best way to contact me to set up an appointment)

Juris Doctor, University of California (1989).

My research focuses on the law of higher education and the transition to college. Specifically, I am interested in access to higher education from a legal and policy perspective. I utilize legal research and qualitative case studies in my work on the transition to college and the legal gatekeepers that make access and persistence difficult for students who traditionally have not had access. Prior to joining the faculty, I was a civil rights attorney and lectured nationally on access policy. 


There is a crisis in the U.S. education system. Over 1/3 of all high school seniors will not graduate this year and for Native Americans, African Americans and Latinos, 50 percent or more will not graduate. In addition, although access to college for immigrant, first generation, low income, and historically underrepresented students of color has increased in the past 30 years, levels of graduation from college have not. Race conscious admissions and other types of diversity initiatives are under attack, yet, empirical research shows we need more programs for underrepresented students, not less. Why isn’t this empirical research part of the legal and policy debate? 

My over-arching research question is what are key issues regarding access to higher education and how can education scholars impact those policy decisions? My current case study project attempts to understand how decisions are made to halt (or retain) race-conscious and diversity initiatives post-Michigan. The project includes two sub-projects: (1) A case study of university attorneys to discover their role in affirmative action decision-making; and (2) a content analysis of various news sources to look at how affirmative action, the DREAM Act, and other access issues are reported. I am using qualitative case study methodology and am utilizing the politics of fear as my theoretical lens (media used to promote decision-making based on fear).


I teach courses in PsTL's graduate programs including: PsTL 5106 Multicultural Teaching and Learning in Diverse Postsecondary Contexts. In addition to graduate faculty status in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning, I am also an affiliate faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Law and in the Higher Education Program. 

I also teach in the First Year Experience (FYE) program. Working with undergraduate students to create an inclusive classroom is a passion and I was honored to be asked to give the faculty speech at the University of Minnesota's New Student Convocation (September 2010). Undergraduate courses I have taught include: PsTL 1525 First Year Inquiry, PsTL 1246 Engaging Democracy and PsTL 1211 Multicultural Perspectives in Sociology.

I am Legal Counsel and a member of the Board of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). I am also active in the Law and Education SIG in the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and review monographs for AERA and ASHE.


Selected Publications

  1. Miksch, K., & Pedelty, M. (2010). Affirmative action and the media: A mixed methods analysis of news coverage of U.S. Supreme Court Cases. Institute of Higher Education Law and Governance (IHELG), 10 (10), 1-30. 

  2. Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Working Group. (2009). The road map to college and career readiness for Minnesota students: Final report and recommendations presented to the Minnesota P-20 Partnership. Minneapolis, MN: Regents of the University of Minnesota. (Contributing author and chair, Pathways to College Working Group).

  3. Miksch, K. (2008). Widening the river: Challenging unequal schools, 27 UCLA Chicana/o Latina/o Law Review, 111-147.

  4. Miksch, K. (2008). Institutional decision making and the politics of fear: 30 years after Bakke. In C. Horn & P. Marin (Eds.) Realizing Bakke’s legacy: Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, and Access to Higher Education  (pp.198-218) Sterling, VA: Stylus.

  5. Miksch, K. (2007). Stand your Ground: Legal and policy justifications for race-conscious programming. In G. Orfield & P. Marin (Eds.) Charting the Future of College Affirmative Action: Legal Victories, Continuing Attacks, and New Research (pp. 79-104) Los Angeles, CA: The Civil Rights Project at UCLA (formerly Harvard University).

Selected Presentations

  1. Miksch, K., & Pedelty, M. (2012, April). The Politics of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Vancouver, BC.

  2. Hutchens, N., Miksch, K., & Sun, J.C. (2011, November). Meeting the challenges of a technology enhanced future: State open records act requests, email, and text messages. Symposium presented at the meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Public Policy Forum, Charlotte, NC.

  3. Miksch, K., & Pedelty, M. (2010, April). Affirmative Action and the Politics of Fear: A Content Analysis of News Coverage of U.S. Supreme Court Cases. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Denver, CO.

  4. Miksch, K., & Sun, J. (2009, Nov.). Academic freedom, faculty governance, and the courts. Symposium presented at the meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Public Policy Forum, Vancouver, BC.

  5. Miksch, K. (2008, April). Academic freedom and ethnic diversity: Lessons learned from Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New York, NY.

| Postsecondary Teaching & Learning| 206 Burton Hall | 178 Pillsbury Dr. SE | Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA | Tel: 612-626-8705 | Fax: 612-625-0709

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Last modified on 11/8/2011