MSMU Awarded Grant to Boost Hispanic Success in Math, Science Degrees
Oct. 13, 2008 -- Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) has been awarded a $2.5 million federal grant to help more Hispanic and low-income students finish four-year degrees in the critical disciplines of math and science. The grant is one of approximately 100 to be awarded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Education over the next two years to colleges and universities where at least 25 percent of students are Hispanic.
In addition to degree completion, the grant seeks to enhance relationships between two-year Hispanic-serving institutions and four-year institutions, especially focusing on students pursuing math and science. MSMU faculty will engage in curricular development with Pasadena City College, Santa Monica College, and Los Angeles Trade-Tech College faculty, as well as with area high school faculty, in its efforts to boost the number of Hispanic students obtaining four-year degrees in these fields.
MSMU students will notice an enhanced learning environment almost immediately. For example, the funds will be used for laptops and new software allowing students to examine a virtual dissection – an upgrade that supports active, hands-on learning. MSMU also is creating a Success Center for Hispanic science and math students. The center will provide comprehensive services including tutoring in math and science during the regular academic year, as well as summer academies.
The grant, created as part of the federal College Cost Reduction Act, also will develop a First Year Experience (FYE) model for science and math students and train professors to better engage Hispanic students and track their persistence toward completing a four-year education. About 44 percent of Mount St. Mary's baccalaureate students are Hispanic.
The award places Mount St. Mary's at the forefront of the national science, technology, engineering, and mathematics initiative (STEM) for Hispanics to achieve postsecondary degrees in those fields. Nationally, minorities make up just 7 percent of the total STEM workforce and Hispanics have the lowest percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees of any minority group in the U.S., according to recent reports by the National Science Foundation.
Mount St. Mary's President Jacqueline Powers Doud said the grant allows the College to play an important role in lessening these disparities through seamless student guidance from the first-year college experience to degree completion. "Mount Saint Mary’s University shares with its two-year college partners the desire for student success in both the classroom and the world," Doud said. "We are fortunate to have been awarded this highly-competitive grant."
Previously, Mount St. Mary's was awarded a five year $2.4 million federal grant in 2001 that focused on strengthening MSMU's academic infrastructure, and, in 2004, a five year $3.5 million federal grant in which the College has partnered with Pasadena City College to help more Hispanic students finish four-year degrees in a variety of fields.