Indiana University

News Release

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Last modified: Thursday, March 29, 2007

Indiana U, HBCUs Partner to Increase Minorities in Science Careers

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Named The STEM Initiative because it focuses on the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, the partnership will increase the number of minority students in STEM graduate programs, provide research opportunities for students and build multi-institutional STEM research collaborations.

The STEM Initiative partners are: Alabama A&M University, Bennett College for Women, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Jackson State University, Langston University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University and Xavier University of Louisiana.

Dr. Adam Herbert, president of Indiana University; Dr. Ronald Mason, president of Jackson State University; Dr. Robert Jennings, president of Alabama A&M University; and Dr. Earl Richardson, president of Morgan State University, are to meet in Indianapolis today (March 29) to announce the partnership.

"This program has the potential to provide significant benefits to the participating institutions, their faculty and their students," says Morgan State President Earl Richardson. "It also has the potential to begin to address in a meaningful way the critical national need to increase the representation of minorities in science-related fields as demographic changes threaten our nation's ability to educate enough of its citizens for an information-based economy."

Along with the four university presidents, Charles Greene, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the U.S. Department of Education, is to speak at a 10 a.m. press conference today on the IUPUI campus.

"The tremendous gap between the number of students seeking degrees in the STEM disciplines as compared with their global counterparts is a serious problem for our country. The gap is even greater when we look at minority students," Greene says.

"The STEM Initiative, and other programs encouraging young people to focus on the sciences, are important. Hopefully, in addition to looking at careers in the private sector, students will also consider earning graduate degrees and returning to teach at Historically Black Colleges and Universities."

Representatives of all 11 campuses are actively involved in on-going developmental planning of the STEM partnership.

"Preparing students to become outstanding scientists and engineers is an important part of the mission of Jackson State University," says Jackson State President Ronald Mason.

"Based on our past partnership with Indiana University, we believe that the STEM Initiative will benefit all of our institutions. We also believe that together we will make a contribution to reducing the gap our country faces in producing scientists."

STEM Initiative programs will begin in June when selected juniors and seniors from IU and the HBCUs will participate in an eight-week Summer Scholars Institute on the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses. Institute scholars will spend 75% of their time working on STEM research teams with IU professors and students, participate in colloquia with STEM academics and professionals and participate in social and cultural activities.

"Alabama A&M University is both honored and delighted to be participating in this endeavor," says Alabama A&M President Robert Jennings. "Not only does it directly relate to the mission of our institution, more importantly, it helps to address a critical need in our nation - that being, to produce scientists and researchers that will help to keep our country competitive."

At the end of the summer, the STEM scholars will present their research to IU and HBCU faculty. Scholars will develop, in conjunction with IU and HBCU faculty, a year-round STEM research program.

"I am enormously proud of this innovative STEM Initiative. It is yet another expression of IU's commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for under-served minorities," says IU President Adam Herbert. "This important collaboration will build on Indiana University's long-standing relationship with historically black colleges and universities. It also will complement IU's focus on the life sciences by helping minority students close the achievement gap in STEM disciplines."

Faculty and staff at IUPUI and IU Bloomington will provide a warm welcome and a set of stimulating learning experiences for the first Summer Scholars, Herbert said.

The students will receive a $4,000 stipend, plus room and board.

Long-term initiative goals include building multi-institutional STEM research collaborations among faculty members and increasing the diversity of all partners through student and faculty exchanges.

STEM Initiative members will meet at IUPUI in April to develop guidelines for forming the research collaborations. Faculty exchanges among the 11 college campuses will begin in 2008. Other faculty activities include visiting scholar programs and faculty research institutes.

Both student and faculty STEM projects will involve research projects across the campuses. The university partners will work together to fund the program.

Other STEM Initiative organizers attending the press conference include the co-chairs, IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, and Charlie Nelms, IU vice president of institutional development and student affairs; and Dr. Akosua Barthwell Evans, CEO of The Barthwell Group, the management consultant firm assisting in The STEM Initiative's development and implementation.

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