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Steve Hinnefeld
IU Communications

Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012

IU Bloomington awarded McNair program funding for graduate education

Aug. 31, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington has been awarded a projected $1.1 million, five-year grant through the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, a federally funded program that promotes doctoral studies for low-income, first-generation and minority college students.

The U.S. Department of Education grant was awarded to the University Graduate School, which administers the McNair Scholars Program at IU Bloomington. It will allow the campus to continue the program, which provides support for students who show strong promise for academic careers.

James Wimbush

James C. Wimbush

Print-Quality Photo

"I am thrilled that Indiana University Bloomington has been awarded this grant, which will make it possible for more deserving students to pursue their dream of earning a doctorate," said James C. Wimbush, dean of the University Graduate School. "Competition for the funding was extremely difficult this year. Maxine Watson, associate dean of the University Graduate School and director of the McNair program at IU Bloomington, deserves full credit for writing the successful grant proposal."

Overall funding for the McNair program was cut this year by $10 million as the Department of Education shifted support to math and science education for high school students from under-represented groups. The Council for Opportunity in Education said the reduction would result in the elimination of one-third of McNair programs at U.S. colleges and universities.

The McNair program, one of the government's TRIO education programs, prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants, who must demonstrate strong academic potential, are first-generation college students with financial need or members of groups that are underrepresented in graduate education.

At IU Bloomington, the McNair Scholars Program is designed to address challenges that face low-income, first-generation and minority students in completing a bachelor's degree and progressing into doctoral-level studies. Scholars conduct independent research under the direction of a faculty member, take part in professional-development workshops, work with tutors and academic counselors, and participate in professional and research meetings.

The university's objectives for the program include increasing the number of McNair Scholars who complete successful research and scholarly activities, boosting the number of scholars who enroll in graduate programs immediately following their completion of a bachelor's degree, and helping doctoral students remain on track and complete their degrees.

The proposal includes partnerships with Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana to increase the number of scholars in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and with IU's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy to assess the effectiveness of the McNair program.

The program is named for Ronald McNair, an African-American astronaut with a Ph.D. in physics who died in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986. More than half of the program's graduates in 2007 were enrolled in graduate school the following fall, according to the Council for Opportunity in Education.