Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Rasmussen University

Transformative Education for All

We believe higher education is about more than taking courses and earning a degree; it is about being challenged by different perspectives and learning to communicate with respect. It is about opportunities that could change your life—and the support to make it possible. Diversity, equity and inclusion are not just abstract goals for Rasmussen University. They are critical to our purpose.

Our DEI Purpose Statement

Rasmussen University promotes diversity awareness; respect for multiple perspectives; equity for all students, staff and faculty; and inclusion among all University stakeholders in and out of the classroom.

Where We Started

During the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, Rasmussen University offered career-driven courses that allowed women to join the workforce. While there was—and still is—more to be done for other minorities, it is this spirit of equality that has helped steer our school over the past 120+ years.

historic Rasmussen photo collage

Where We Are Now

We are proud to serve a diverse student body—made up of different genders, ages, races and ethnicities. By offering flexible, affordable programs and step-by-step support, we aim to make education more accessible for everyone.


of students are women


of students are over the age of 25


of students are of color3

Teaching Diversity and Teamwork in Every Program

Working on a diverse team is something every student should be able to do—regardless of their degree. That’s why diversity and teamwork, along with five other transferable skills, are integrated into every program at Rasmussen University. Not only do we focus on the core technical skills that employers value, but the core qualities that are essential to being successful in society and the workforce.

Learn more about transferable skills at Rasmussen

Increasing Access through Empowered Learning™ and Knowledge Credit™

With jobs, families and other responsibilities, traditional education doesn't work for everyone. But it doesn’t have to. We are dedicated to offering alternative paths to a degree. Empowered Learning offers flexible course schedules, and Knowledge Credit allows students to get credit for what they already know, saving them time and money on their education.

Learn more about Empowered Learning
Learn more about Knowledge Credit

Listening and Learning through Rasmussen Real Talk

In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd in an area close to home for many of our Minnesota campuses, it became clear that we needed an outlet for honest conversation. In an on-going discussion series called Rasmussen Real Talk, students and faculty come together to listen, seek community and talk about topics including community policing, anti-Asian hate and more.

George Floyd mural

Celebrating First-Generation College Students

One in four students at Rasmussen University tell us they are the first in their families to attend college.1 You can read some of their stories in our News Center, including that of Pang Houa Vang-Yang, a first-generation Rasmussen alum. Read more

Another way to understand this community is through the results of a 2020 survey sent to all first-gen students at Rasmussen:2

  • 95% of respondents pursued higher education to fulfill a personal goal
  • 33% of respondents already had some college experience
  • 25% of respondents were between the ages of 26 and 30
  • 63% of respondents chose Rasmussen University because of flexible course schedules

As we learn more about the strengths and needs of first-gen students, we are dedicated to making sure they feel uniquely seen and supported.

Pang Houa Vang-Yang

Recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day

In our January 2021 discussion, “His Dream Deferred: The State of Dr. King's Dream and How We can Advance it Together,” a panel of community leaders came together to discuss the significance of Dr. King’s legacy and how it affects civil rights today.

Event Calendar

Upcoming Events

Pride Month Series

June 15, 2022 at 2:00 PM

Celebrate Pride Month with Rasmussen University. Join us for our second Pride Month virtual event featuring a moderated discussion on Allyship & Promoting a Safe Learning Community on June 15 at 2:00 PM (Central).

Summer Book Club

July 01, 2022

Rasmussen University faculty and staff are invited to join the Rasmussen DEI Council and participate in this year’s Summer Book Club! The evocative and riveting novel, We Are Not Like Them, will be sure to spark relevant discussions that relate to the mission of the DEI Council.

Check back soon for more events!

Past Events

Pride Month Series

June 08, 2022 at 2:00 PM

Rasmussen University celebrated Pride month by hosting a series of virtual events. The first event featured Marshall Turner, Director of Operations for The Center Orlando, who gave a timely presentation about Gender Identity.

Autism Acceptance Month Lunch and Learn

April 20, 2022

The Rasmussen University DEI Council hosted an Autism Acceptance Month Lunch and Learn, featuring guest speaker John Mindiola. John is the department chair for the School of Design and General Education at Rasmussen. He shared his personal story of his life with an autistic son, as well as helped attendees learn how to continue to build an inclusive community where people with autism are embraced and supported to achieve their best life.

Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day

January 14, 2022

The DEI Council hosted a panel discussion featuring community leaders who talked about what it means to be a member of a beloved community.

Our DEI Leaders

MaNesha Stiff, PhD

Dr. MaNesha Stiff currently serves as the director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Rasmussen University. In addition to this role, Dr. Stiff is the principal DEI consultant at Metanoia Solutions Consulting, LLC and is president of the Illinois chapter of the Association of Black Women in Higher Education (ABWHE). She holds many credentials, including a Master’s degree of Management in Higher Education Administration from North Park University and a PhD in Higher Education Leadership from Capella University.

In her spare time, Dr. Stiff enjoys spending time with her family, making her friends laugh uncontrollably and playing with her Yorkie (Honeychild) and schnauzer (Velvet). She also enjoys working with her mentoring group “NE.R.DY (No Exceptions. Represent. Do You.) Brown Girls.”

DEI Council Leadership

With over 70 members, this council is focused on institutional DEI training and critical conversations as well as DEI-related holidays, recognition and awareness.

Hugues Wamba, BS


Andy Binanti, EdD

Co-Vice Chair

Iman Johnson, MBA/MSPM

Co-Vice Chair

DEI Steering Committee

This committee is responsible for strategic planning, decision making and accountability regarding DEI initiatives at Rasmussen University.

Carrie Daninhirsch, MA

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Interim Chief Academic Officer

Joshua Collier, JD

Director of Legal Compliance

Brooks Doherty, EdD

Assistant Vice President of Academic Innovation

Dale Leatherwood, MBA

Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy

Eric Whitehouse, MPA

Vice President of Campus Operations and Student Services

Georgia Vest, DNP

Assistant Vice President of School of Nursing

Jessica Cisek, MIBA

Senior Regional HR Manager

Statements to the Community

As an institution of higher education, it’s important that we speak out on events that affect our students, faculty and community. To cultivate a space where people feel safe to express themselves, we are dedicated to getting the conversation started.

Statement on Chauvin Verdict
Statement on George Floyd

Share Your Thoughts

Diversity, equity and inclusion are big ideas, but ultimately, they start with people—like you.

So, if you have any suggestions about how we can celebrate a cultural milestone, have feedback about one of our initiatives or just want to share your thoughts, let us know here!

  1. This figure represents data that was volunteered by active and "temporary out" students during the application process between August 2016 and October 2021. A first-generation student is defined by neither parent having attended a postsecondary institution.
  2. This survey was conducted by Rasmussen University in November 2020.
  3. Rasmussen University Current Enrollment Demographics, March 2021
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