- Expanding opportunity
The news earlier this week of national recognition for UGA for its efforts to foster an inclusive campus [for the third year in a row, no less], dovetails nicely with the renewal of a major new NSF grant for a program that has helped triple minority enrollment in STEM fields at the University:
UGA initially received funding to implement the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation a decade ago, and the program will continue for another five years thanks to a new $4 million NSF grant. The program, led by UGA's Office of Institutional Diversity, funds undergraduates in STEM majors at UGA, as well as at Fort Valley State University, Georgia State University, Perimeter College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Kennesaw State University and Savannah State University.
According to the NSF, African-Americans are 12 percent of the U.S. population but received less than 9 percent of science and engineering bachelor's degrees in 2014. Hispanics received 12 percent of the degrees but comprise 14 percent of the population.
Since the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation began in 2006, minority enrollment in STEM fields at UGA has increased from 399 in 2006 to 1,143 in 2015. The number of Bachelor of Science degrees earned by underrepresented minorities in STEM has quadrupled from 56 in 2006 to 214 in 2015. In addition, the overall number of STEM degrees conferred by UGA has risen in recent years from nearly 16 percent of all bachelor's degrees in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015.
As society continues to struggle with racial injustice, the academy and higher education must continue to lead. While campuses are certainly not immune to the struggles, we can and do have ability to lead ourselves in the direction of justice so that colleges and universities can be beacons in the direction of progress. The award and the NSF grant qualifiy as such indicators as we continue the hard work of forming a more perfect union.
Image: Student in Chemistry Laboratory Austen Scruggs by Dorothy Kozlowski, courtesy of UGA photo services