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NSF grant renewal will help Ohio State, partner institutions increase underrepresented minority STEM students

The Ohio State University and nine other Ohio universities and colleges got a vote of support recently when the National Science Foundation renewed a grant that will help the alliance continue its work to increase the number of underrepresented minority students in STEM fields.

The continuing grant, expected to total $4.5 million over five years, supports the Ohio LSAMP program, short for the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation. It is the largest grant ever awarded to Ohio State’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The grant was first awarded in 2013, for $3.5 million.

“The work of The Ohio LSAMP Alliance to bring more underrepresented minority students into the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics is showing significant progress,” Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron said. “The continuation of the NSF grant will help us sustain that trajectory so we can prepare a more diverse workforce for long-term careers in these STEM fields.”

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will oversee implementation of the grant across six four-year universities and four community colleges: Central State, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Miami University, Ohio State, Wright State, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Columbus State Community College, Cuyahoga Community College and Sinclair Community College.

The alliance has seen significant success in its first five years, said Barbara Fink, director of Ohio LSAMP. “Collaborations among the 10 partner institutions are critical for generating the institutional changes necessary to achieve our shared vision,” she said

Statistics from Ohio State and the Ohio Department of Higher Education show the progress that alliance members have made:

  • STEM bachelor’s degrees for underrepresented minority students at Ohio State increased from 154 in 2013 to 344 in 2016.
  • By 2016, LSAMP institutions were awarding more than twice as many underrepresented minority student STEM degrees (120 percent increase) than they were in 2011. By comparison, STEM bachelor’s degrees in general increased 39 percent and total bachelor’s degrees increased 10 percent.
  • In the same period, enrollment of underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines increased 31 percent across the alliance while total enrollments decreased 6 percent.
  • Retention of LSAMP scholars was more than 20 percent higher than that of underrepresented minority STEM students who were not in LSAMP. Further, the average GPA for LSAMP Scholars was 0.6 units higher.

The LSAMP Alliance supports the academic, professional, and social development of students through high-impact, evidence-based practices and collaborations with industry and community partners. Highlights of the program at Ohio State include a freshmen summer bridge program, academic success coaching, faculty and peer mentoring, an LSAMP student organization, free tutoring and supplemental instruction services, and a summer undergraduate research program.

College of Engineering Associate Dean David Tomasko and Senior Director of Diversity, Outreach and Inclusion Lisa Barclay have served on the LSAMP advisory group for several years. Along with a handful of other engineering faculty, they both also mentor LSAMP students.

According to Barclay, the LSAMP bridge and academic year programming are modeled on the college’s Minority Engineering Program (MEP) Pre First-Year Academic and Career Engagement (PREFACE) program.

“I am so excited that The Ohio LSAMP Alliance was funded for another five years,” said James L. Moore III, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and the chief diversity officer at Ohio State. “More important, I am confident that the alliance can continue to help increase the number of STEM graduates among historically underrepresented communities. There are many major employers in Ohio and beyond that could benefit from such STEM degree increases.”

modified version of original article on Ohio State News