Grant to increase minority enrollment

The National Science Foundation gave $3.5 million to UH to increase the number of degrees earned by minorities in science, technology, mathematics and engineering.

The NSF has funded the Houston Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, H-LSAMP, which is a federal program run out of UH that includes six other universities and two community colleges. ‘

‘As one of the most ethnically diverse universities in America, UH is uniquely positioned to be a leader in producing more minority researchers, scientists and engineers,’ John Bear, dean of UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics said in an article written by Rolando Garcia.

Bear and Bobby Wilson, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Texas Southern University, joined forces to create H-LSAMP.’

Bear said one of his goals is to diversify the school.

Over the last five years, UH has received funding of $1 million per year.

This year, H-LSAMP was designated as a senior alliance, which means that UH will receive $3.5 million per year for the next five years.

Craig Cassidy, executive director of H-LSAMP, said there are many goals to be accomplished through this program.

‘One of our goals (for) the students who participate in this program’hellip;90 percent of those students do summer research,’ Cassidy said.’ ‘We also want to see our program internationalize, meaning that we want to send students overseas to conduct research and show the country’s top researchers what our students can do.’

Other goals for the alliance include recruiting, retaining and graduating well-qualified minority science, engineering, technology, and mathematics majors, and developing a mechanism to increase community college transfer to 75 percent of level one students.

Cassidy said that the real goal of the program is to create a collaborative learning community.

Another program designed with student retention in mind is the Scholar Enrichment Program (SEP). ‘

The SEP acts as an umbrella to fund students using H- LSAMP funds and other training and outreach type grants.

H-LSAMP focuses mainly on minority recruitment and retention, while the SEP has a larger goal of total recruitment and retention of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, majors.

Cassidy said that retaining students in STEM majors is extremely important because the number of minorities in science and engineering around the nation are low.

‘Though the national number of students is low, here at UH, we have seen a significant increase due in large part of the H-LSAMP and SEP programs,’ Cassidy said.’ ‘We have roughly doubled the number of students in STEM majors since the start of the program in 1998.’

The STEM enrollment in 1998-99 was 1,831 students.’ In 2007-08 that number had increased to 2,228 students.

‘The only way we have been successful has been from administrative support, from the provost level to the department chairs,’ Cassidy said.’ ‘Also, the students have been outstanding.’

According to a survey conducted by the H-LSAMP, 66 percent of students said they would consider being involved in the program to progress their graduation.

The H-LSAMP program supports students in all STEM disciplines and sends one-third to one-half of its graduates to graduate school or other professional programs each year.

The SEP has helped many students, including biology senior Mark White.

‘The SEP has helped me financially and academically,’ White said. ‘The program’s stipend helps out on paying the University bill and has eliminated my need for loans; in fact I have never had to sign up for any.

‘Academically, the workshops and seminars help keep most of my grades at A’s and B’s because of the information obtained and the experience of others at various positions.’

Along with being a SEP student, White has also been a tutor for other students in the program.

‘Tutoring students is a rewarding experience and it is good for the students to know that they are not alone and someone is around to help them,’ White said.’ ‘It is a good feeling to see relief on their faces when they can figure out a problem.’

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