The McNair Scholars Program at CSULB was recently awarded a four-year grant totaling $1,026,360 from the U.S. Department of Education. The program first received funding in 1995 and has earned continuous support ever since.
"It is a great honor to be selected by the Department of Education to prepare low-income, first-generation college students, and students from groups underrepresented in graduate education for doctoral study," said Howard Wray, executive director of Educational Equity Services and director of the McNair Scholars and Student Support Services Programs.
"Because of the continued funding, Cal State Long Beach will be able to increase the number of students served through the McNair grant from 25 to 30 annually. The grant will give 30 underrepresented students an opportunity to conduct research with a CSULB faculty member each year for the next four years," Wray explained.
"Also, given that doctoral education is the primary training ground for future faculty and underrepresented groups continue to enroll in doctoral programs below their percentage of the general population," he added, "CSULB's McNair program will help the nation in preparing more underrepresented students for doctoral study and ultimately diversify the faculty at many of the nation's colleges and universities."
Named after the late Ronald E. McNair, an African American physicist and NASA astronaut who died in the 1986 Challenger explosion, the McNair Scholars Program is designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented segments of society and disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong, academic potential to go on to graduate study.The program is funded at 181 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico.
The Department of Education uses two criteria in granting awards to institutions, explained Wray – a highly ranked proposal and prior experience points based on the program's performance over the last grant cycle.
"The maximum points an institution could receive was 115 with 100 points for the proposal and 15 points for prior experience," said Wray." The cut-off score combining the proposal points and prior experience was 98.67. CSULB received 113 total points. The proposal readers scored CSULB's grant proposal 98 out of 100."
The readers (three independent proposal readers hired by the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate proposals) were impressed with the degree of faculty involvement in the program, Wray noted. "In addition, the department gave our program 15 prior experience points which is the maximum number of prior experience points an institution can receive," he said. "CSULB's McNair program received the 15 prior experience points because six former CSULB McNair scholars have attained their Ph.D.s, including two current CSULB faculty members – Kagba Suaray in the Mathematics and Statistics Department and Hannah Nguyen in the Psychology Department. In addition, one former scholar has an O.D. degree, four have J.D. degrees and 18 former scholars are currently in Ph.D. programs across the country."
Through a carefully structured plan of operation based on student needs, McNair scholars receive such services as a needs assessment, the development of an Individual Graduate Education Plan, a six-week summer research internship where students are guided through the investigative research, writing and professional presenting stages of preparing for graduate school and doctoral study.
They also receive a weeklong seminar designed to prepare them for the GRE, assistance in submitting graduate school and financial aid applications as well as in securing fellowships, grants and aid for graduate school, research and writing seminars, oral presentation coaching, computer technology workshops, faculty mentoring and the publication of research results in the McNair Journal.