WPI joins important national consortium
WPI's goal of providing graduate training in engineering and science to a greater number of individuals of color received a big boost in June when the university was accepted for membership in the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities (GEM).
"Membership in GEM is another facet of WPI's ongoing efforts to implement programs and strategies to attract students of color to campus," says Blanche D. Pringle, director of minority affairs and outreach programs. "Being part of this consortium brings us into close contact with other institutions that share our goals and help us get the word out about our graduate programs to underrepresented minority men and women interested in pursuing master's and doctoral degrees."
Through GEM, WPI gains access to students the university is currently not reaching to provide it with increased recognition within communities of color, help make its graduate programs financially accessible to more underrepresented students of color, and open doors to networking with the other GEM institutions across the United States.
"For more than a quarter-century, WPI has been a national model in innovative undergraduate education, with a unique program geared to real-world problems and life-long learning," says former Interim President John Lott Brown, who was instrumental in facilitating the application process. "In the past five years, we have begun to prove that our curriculum is particularly appropriate to the needs of underrepresented minority students, especially as augmented by the variety of support services WPI provides.
"These initiatives have become a pipeline for underrepresented minority graduate students. We are able to offer them attractive opportunities for furthering their education beyond the bachelor's degree."
WPI's minority graduate initiatives encompass
WPI's development of the minority graduate student education initiative coincides with the launch of the Doctor of Philosophy with Integrated Teaching Experience program. The university plans to actively seek minority candidates for this new doctoral program, which will prepare a self-selected group of Ph.D. candidates to become master educators and researchers.
- program support from the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, the Minority Affairs Office and other offices, including Student Life, Residential Services and Student Activities.
- recruitment efforts that include using the university's existing ties with Howard University and North Carolina A&T and expanding these collaborations to other institutions serving minority students; making it possible for faculty members in project centers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to meet with undergraduate students of color who are enrolled in colleges and universities in these areas; utilizing academic departments' recruiting efforts; arranging for teams of WPI faculty and graduate students to attend graduate school and career fairs, particularly those sponsored by minority educational and professional organizations; producing a minority graduate recruitment brochure; and incorporating information about the benefits of graduate education into the university's minority undergraduate recruitment materials.
- academic and social support, offering training sessions for graduate students of color and their mentors that will focus on issues of importance to the academic success of minority students; presenting personal development workshops for minority graduate students and workshops on diversity in the classroom and the laboratory and its impact on the learning process to all graduate students; encouraging students to participate in minority network meetings of the New England Board of Higher Education and in institutes designed to build and enhance graduate students' teaching and research skills; and working with the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to ensure that efforts are made to include minority students.
- financial support in the form of stipends and tuition through to completion of the Ph.D. Meritorious students will be eligible for postdoctoral instructorships.
"Our acceptance into GEM is an important element that will support initiatives that provide opportunities for minority graduate students," says William W. Durgin, associate provost for academic affairs. "It is critically important that we educate graduate students who will become the minority faculty in our nation's universities. WPI is committed to providing not only education through the Ph.D., but also teacher training through involvement in our own unique undergraduate program."
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