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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Graduate School receives grant to produce more minority Ph.D.s

Using a grant from the National Science Foundation, New Mexico State University's Graduate School is coordinating a program aimed at tripling the number of science, mathematics and engineering Ph.D.s awarded to minority students in New Mexico.

NMSU's Graduate School, which administers graduate-level programs for the university's colleges, received a $2.5 million grant from the science foundation Sept. 15.

In partnership with the two other doctoral-granting institutions in New Mexico, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Tech, the Graduate School will use the money to create the New Mexico Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NM-AGEP).

The NM-AGEP will be coordinated by the graduate schools at all three universities, with NMSU being the lead institution on the grant, said Christine Marlow, associate dean of NMSU's graduate school and the project's director.

The three alliance universities also will cooperate with a number of Southwestern universities that have large minority populations, the national laboratories at Sandia and Los Alamos, the tribal colleges in New Mexico and several programs that provide academic mentoring for minority undergraduates.

Marlow said the program, one of 20 nationwide, hopes to reverse a trend that has raised concern in the National Science Foundation.

"Although we've seen some increases in minority graduate students, many do not go on to complete Ph.D.s. Many are actively recruited at the master's level by private companies and feel no incentive to complete a doctorate. When you look at those who enter the professoriate, that number is even smaller," she said.

"This is what concerns the National Science Foundation -- that we need more qualified minority faculty in science, mathematics and engineering," she added.

To address the situation NM-AGEP will take a number of steps, Marlow said. It will:

* Enhance teaching stipends for students in the program by about $3,000 per student.
* Sponsor teaching workshops to ensure students are prepared to teach and to juggle the various responsibilities of a professor.
* Provide mentoring workshops for faculty.
* Sponsor an annual NM-AGEP conference.
* Help faculty members set up a communication network.
* Develop cross-disciplinary, cross-university programs to give students greater flexibility in what they study.
* Engage the colleges in systematic recruiting efforts.
* Provide graduate students with opportunities to team teach courses with experienced professors.
* Produce a newsletter and a Web page.
* Conduct workshops with the students on how to maintain personal integrity and cultural pride in an academic setting.
Jack King
Oct. 5, 2000