On February 6, 2019, Dr. Alan Arnold, Director of Research Development, represented the Consortium's member institutions and researchers at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM)'s 2019 Annual Convocation. This year's convocation was hosted by by the Board on Higher Education and Workforce and focused on their newest report: Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce.
With diversity among United States institutions of higher learning increasing, the Committee and report sought to provide recommendations to maintain and expand the overall capacity for minority-serving institutions (MSIs) of higher education to maintain and increase their competitiveness.
The report's recommendations illustrate how MSIs positively and substantially impact the economy. Fundamentally, MSIs present a good business case as collaborative partners in research. At MSRDC, we are making the case that innovative, dynamic and cutting-edge research is happening at these institutions.Dr. Alan Arnold, Director of Research Development for MSRDC
The committee and panel also emphasized the importance of minority students in STEM fields. While there are over 20 million students of color in STEM education within the United States, this number is still far below the number needed. The participation of this group will help re-establish the dominance and innovative edge of the United States in STEM research.
The report also emphasizes the need to increase competitive and non-competitive funding among STEM fields to maintain and increase global competitiveness. Local, national and global partnerships will greatly contribute to the overall capacity of STEM researchers to provide modern, innovative solutions to complex issues facing a myriad of issues from health to national defense.
There are over 700 two and four-year schools in the United States classified as MSIs, which contribute to 30% of enrollment nationally. Of these 700+ schools, nearly half (50%) are two-year institutions. More undergraduate students are enrolled in STEM at four-year MSI schools than at four-year non-MSI schools. Taken together, HBCUs, HSIs and AANAPISIs produce one-fifth of the nation's STEM Bachelor's degrees.Lorelle Espinosa (committee co-chair), Vice President for Research, American Council on Education
The study was sponsored by the ECMC Foundation, Helmsley Charitable Trusts, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Wallace Foundation. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions relations to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.
For more information, visit http://nationalacademies.org.
Based on a review of research literature, available data, and site visits to nine MSIs, the committee found evidence that seven broad strategies hold the greatest promise for strengthening the quality of STEM education and workforce preparation for MSI students:
- Dynamic, multilevel, mission-driven leaders. Such leaders have a well-articulated vision and a willingness to hold themselves accountable for committing the necessary capital, educational resources, and services to meeting the particular needs of their student body.
- Institutional responsiveness to meet students where they are. MSIs include a high percentage of low-income and nontraditional students, many of whom self-finance their education and attend school part-time while also working and supporting families. Institutions need to design and implement policies and practices that support students who may need additional academic, financial, and social support and flexibility.
- Supportive campus environments. A welcoming and nurturing campus climate – one that supports a fundamental sense of community and an equity-oriented culture – contributes to academic attainment and professional commitment at MSIs.
- Tailored academic and social supports. Intentional policies and practices and holistic supports, such as Summer Bridge programs and supplemental instruction, help guide students through higher education and make an important difference in persistence and success.
- Mentorship and sponsorship. Strong mentorship is frequently cited in the research literature as key to student success at MSIs.
- Availability of undergraduate research experiences. These experiences are often important for students who seek to gain entry into graduate programs and professional fields.
- Mutually beneficial public- and private-sector partnerships. Such collaborations have the potential to provide alternative funding mechanisms and educational and research opportunities for students.
For additional information, visit the event's website.