- Minority-Serving Institutions Join Forces
- NSF Selects Alliance for Equity in Higher Education to Lead Major National Campaign
Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 2004—Strategies that result from 10 years of experience preparing students of color for careers in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—will be disseminated through a major national campaign led by the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education. The strategies, based on lessons learned from the National Science Foundation’s celebrated Model Institutions of Excellence (MIE) Program, include such principles as emphasizing undergraduate research, updating teaching methodologies and providing teaching incentives, improving technology infrastructure, and using innovative recruitment and retention activities. The National Science Foundation (NSF) selected the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education to distribute these ideas and methods so that other institutions might replicate the success of the MIE Program.
MIE was launched in 1994 as part of a comprehensive, nationwide effort by the NSF and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to upgrade the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for underrepresented populations. Six minority-serving institutions with reputations for successfully preparing students in the STEM fields received major grants to strengthen their infrastructures and encourage and support their students from high school through graduate school.
The MIE Schools are Bowie State University (MD), the Oyate Consortium [composed of Oglala Lakota, Sisseton-Wahpeton & Sitting Bull Colleges] (SD), Spelman College (GA), Universidad Metropolitana (Puerto Rico), the University of Texas at El Paso, and Xavier University (LA). They have concentrated not only on innovative recruitment and retention, but also on enhancing the education of their STEM students through counseling and academic enrichment.
- Bowie State University built a five-part program that focuses on outreach, retention, partnerships, curriculum reform, and undergraduate research opportunities.
- The Oyate Consortium developed a baccalaureate degree program in environmental and computer sciences based on Lakota values of wisdom, respect, courage, and generosity.
- Spelman College strengthened STEM infrastructure, updated STEM curriculum and teaching methodologies, and established early intervention activities for STEM students.
- Universidad Metropolitana strengthened STEM academic and administrative infrastructure while expanding outreach, student support services, and retention activities. The primary focus has been on environmental sciences.
- The University of Texas at El Paso expanded services for incoming STEM students; provided opportunities for research, mentoring, and professional development; rewarded innovative teachers, and enhanced university infrastructure.
- Xavier University expanded recruitment and retention efforts in STEM fields, renovated and upgraded STEM space and equipment, and enhanced students support services and computer networking capabilities.
The Alliance is particularly well-suited to disseminate MIE strategies because it represents a major national network of other minority-serving institutions. These 340 schools include the nation’s Tribal Colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Moreover, Alliance member institutions educate more than one-third of all students of color in the United States, and the numbers are increasing.
The Alliance has been breaking new ground in minority collaboration and mutual goal setting since its founding in 1999. Its coalition members are the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). Alliance programs are coordinated and facilitated by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nationally respected independent research organization, which also will provide general project management for MIE dissemination activities.
“This project will highlight the major accomplishments of the MIE schools and reach a wide audience of minority-serving institutions and others that might wish to replicate the models or adapt aspects of what has been learned through MIE,” said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy and principal investigator for the project. “This kind of cooperation is central to the fundamental mission of the Alliance—to collaborate across cultures and communities."
A number of projects have been planned to make information available to the widest possible audience of schools. The Alliance will begin by creating and disseminating a comprehensive report about the models and products of MIE institutions. To achieve its dissemination goals, from now through 2005, the Alliance will produce:
- a comprehensive report;
- a website presence with links to the MIE schools, the report, and complementary material;
- brochures containing an executive summary and highlights of the results;
- presentations for national meetings convened by the Alliance partner organizations; and
- a compact disk (CD) containing the aforementioned publications and information.
For more information about this program and other Alliance initiatives call the Institute for Higher Education Policy at 202- 861-8223 or see the Internet at www.msi-alliance.org