University of Kentucky, 8 others share grant to increase minority graduates in math, science

lblackford@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2014 

The University of Kentucky and eight other universities in Kentucky and West Virginia announced a $2.5 million grant Monday to help more minority students graduate with degrees in math and science.

The National Science Foundation provided money for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, named for former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio. The other schools are the University of Louisville, West Virginia University, Western Kentucky University, Centre College, Marshall University, Kentucky State University, West Virginia State University, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

The grant is aimed at graduating more than 260 minority students each year at the nine schools in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Those fields are often referred to as STEM.

The initiative "provides rich opportunities that we hope will excite more underrepresented students to explore, delve into and thrive in academic and research programs in STEM fields," UK President Eli Capilouto said.

The grant is the second phase of the program. The first phase started in 2006 with most of the same schools and was aimed at recruiting more students into STEM courses and majors. For example, at West Virginia University, math professor David Allan Miller used the grant money to start a three-week summer program for minority students to get an intensive background in algebra and calculus.

"We've seen drastic improvements in performance," Miller said.

University funding that supported the grant also allowed his department to remodel classroom space so he could teach calculus classes with no more than 18 students.

University officials said the alliance will help each school learn from the others.

J.J. Jackson, UK's vice president for institutional diversity, recently visited all the member campuses to learn how each program has been structured.

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359. Twitter: @lbblackford.

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