The STEM Diversity Institute was the host institution for an all-day symposium held May 30 for members of the Northeastern Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NEAGEP), who discussed strategies for continuing its mission to increase the number of underrepresented students undertaking graduate study in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.
For the past 15 years, UMass Amherst has led the alliance that includes MIT, Boston University, Rutgers, Penn State and the universities of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These institutions partner with minority-serving institution members of NEAGEP: Bennett College, Lincoln University, Medgar Evers College and the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez.
Since 1999, NEAGEP has attracted more than $10 million in National Science Foundation (NSF) funding. In addition, UMass Amherst leveraged the successes of NEAGEP to obtain an additional $5 million in National Institutes of Health and NSF grants targeted to diversifying the STEM workforce. These grants are housed in the STEM Diversity Institute. According to Sandra Petersen, executive director of the STEM Diversity Institute and professor of veterinary and animal science, during the past 15 years the NEAGEP “built a trusting and collaborative relationship between a group of institutions who share a common mission, share best practices, and who work together to find the appropriate academic programs for students from underrepresented groups.”
Successful recruitment and retention efforts more than doubled enrollment of underrepresented graduate students across alliance institutions and the number of underrepresented students completing their doctorate rose by 56 percent compared to 19 percent nationally. Over the past five years, NEAGEP institutions graduated 328 underrepresented minority STEM Ph.D. students. Petersen said, “We now plan to build on our successes and continue our alliance activities through different funding models. As a group, we are committed to meeting the national need of including representatives of our entire population in the STEM workforce.”