Topics: College of Sciences and Humanities, President
November 9, 2016
Ball State and five other Indiana colleges and universities are sharing a $4.8 million grant to double the number of minorities who earn a degree in a STEM field.
Ball State University is partnering with colleges and universities around the state to double the number of STEM-related bachelor’s degrees earned by minorities, who are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The National Science Foundation recently funded the $4.8 million, five-year project to create the Indiana STEM Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, named for the first African-American congressman from Ohio and champion of the poor. Other partners are Indiana University Bloomington, IU Northwest, IU-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU South Bend and Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis.
“We have long known that higher education is a gateway to successful, enriching lives and careers,” said Terry King, interim president at Ball State. “Ball State has long stressed the need to create opportunities for minority students in various STEM fields in order to meet the needs of our nation’s increasingly technology-based economy. This partnership will enhance our efforts to inspire the next generation of researchers, inventors and creators.”
As part of the initiative, schools will emphasize transforming STEM education through innovative recruitment and retention strategies and relevant educational experiences that support racial and ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Latinos, Native Hawaiians and Native Pacific Islanders.The goal is to increase the number of STEM-related degrees awarded to minority students at the partner institutions from 295 in the baseline year of 2013-14 to 590 when the project ends Dec. 31, 2021.
To achieve this goal, alliance partners will apply three strategies:
- Implement cohesive, high-impact practice programs to increase the first-year, full-time minority student retention rate by 2 percent per year at each institution and to strengthen disciplinary engagement
- Facilitate seamless transitions from high schools to STEM undergraduate and graduate degree programs
- Facilitate students’ transition from community colleges to four-year institutions.
To support these strategies, alliance partners will create or enhance initiatives, including math placement and online review support, summer bridge programs, freshman learning communities, peer mentoring, plans for completing a degree in four years, faculty-mentored research and an annual research conference.
“Ball State has long stressed the need to create opportunities for minority students in various STEM fields in order to meet the needs of our nation’s increasingly technology-based economy. This partnership will enhance our efforts to inspire the next generation of researchers, inventors and creators.”
— Terry King
The project should reverse the decline of underrepresented students from STEM programs, who leave in larger numbers than other groups of students, said Patricia L. Lang, acting associate dean of Ball State’s Honors College and a chemistry professor. She is the project’s co-principal investigator, providing support to faculty about mentoring undergraduates in research.
The project also will increase the percentage of STEM degree holders among the minority populations in the state and nation by providing students with access to faculty research mentoring and academic support, she said.
Ball State’s efforts across various colleges and disciplines will play a key role in helping underrepresented minority students succeed and thrive in the 21st-century workplace, said Jeffry Grigsby, interim dean of Ball State’s College of Sciences and Humanities (CSH). That college and the College of Architecture and Planning will be the two main academic units on campus participating in the initiative.
“The college (CSH) will be working with our peers across campus and across the state, strengthening the alliance’s impact beyond the region as its talented STEM graduates enter national research and development enterprises and thus diversify the nation’s STEM workforce,” Grigsby said. “Alliance graduates will help the country regain its pre-eminence in scientific and technological advancement.”