Between 2001 and 2004, much research went into instituting and developing a plan for Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) as a result of suggestions from external consultants and the African American Student Affairs Strategic Planning Committee. Vice President William Banis and Dean of Students Mary Desler invited stakeholders such as students, staff, faculty, and administrators to contribute and collaborate in conducting student focus groups, surveys and discussions to help determine the direction of cultural engagement and the creation of Multicultural Student Affairs.
In 2004, MSA was created to centralize the infrastructure and resources that were independently managed by the University's three ethnic departments: African American Student Affairs (AASA), Asian/Asian American Student Affairs (A/AASA), and Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs (H/LSA). More importantly, the unification of AASA, A/AASA, and H/LSA under the umbrella unit of MSA was symbolic of the inclusive and collaborative culture that was desired.
In 2011, after many conversations with students and University constituents, Vice President Telles-Irvin reorganized the Division of Student Affairs, which included the inclusion of the LGBT Resource Center as the fourth MSA unit. During the summer of 2012, the LGBT Resource Center became an official department within MSA. The four MSA units collectively work to promote the interests of under-served students and celebrate the diversity of the Northwestern University community.
- Bursar Sit-In in 1968
- African American Student Affairs was founded in 1972
- African American Studies Department founded in 1972
- Asian American Studies Hunger Strike 1995
- Asian American Studies Program founded in 1999
- Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs was founded in 2000
- Asian/Asian American Student Affairs was founded in 2001
- Multicultural Student Affairs was founded in 2004
- The LGBT Resource Center was founded in 2004
- Latina/o Studies Program was founded in 2009
- The LGBT Resource Center joined MSA in 2012