CU-Boulder graduate school awarded $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant

October 19, 2000

The University of Colorado at Boulder has received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, according to Chancellor Richard L. Byyny.

The NSF grant is designed to enhance recruitment, retention and support for minority doctoral students in the fields of science, math and engineering.

"We are very excited that the National Science Foundation recognized our continuing, successful efforts to provide a high-quality educational experience for minority doctoral students in these fields," Byyny said.

In support of the grant, CU-Boulder will offer 10 new Chancellor's Teaching Assistantships to encourage first-year students to become involved in Boulder campus teacher training programs from the beginning of their doctoral studies.

From 1990-1997 CU-Boulder ranked 16th in the nation for producing minority doctoral students in science, math and engineering fields, according to the Foundation's statistics, for an average of approximately seven graduates per year.

The new assistantships will include a $15,000 stipend and full tuition. The university's commitment totals almost $1 million, or about $200,000 per year.

Phil DiStefano, vice chancellor for academic affairs, is the principal investigator for the grant. Carol Lynch, associate vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school, along with James Curry, professor of applied mathematics, serve as co-principal investigators.

The grant provides funding for the new Colorado PEAKS Alliance, a joint venture between CU-Boulder and Colorado State University to develop a model of minority graduate education delivery in which graduate schools across the state coordinate recruiting pipelines and support programs, with faculty participation.

The name PEAKS is not an acronym, but the evocative name chosen for the Colorado alliance of the state's top Ph.D. granting institutions. CU-Boulder is the lead institution in the Colorado PEAKS Alliance.

According to Professor Curry, manager of the Alliance, the model programs developed through the project are designed to lead to major increases in minority Ph.D. enrollment at participating institutions and to form the infrastructure for faculty-driven, sustainable diversity efforts.

The Alliance will build on nationally acclaimed science, math and engineering graduate programs already in place on both campuses that offer doctoral students an outstanding education in which research and academics are thoroughly integrated and interdisciplinary studies are supported through departments, research institutes and centers.

CU-Boulder is focusing on students from a national pool of applicants to its summer research programs. The grant will expand the Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training program, begun in 1989, that attracts outstanding students from around the country to participate in research programs as an introduction to graduate education.

Two undergraduate programs, the Minority Arts and Sciences Program and the Multicultural Engineering Program, also will create opportunities to prepare their students for graduate school in these fields.

In addition, CU-Boulder has partnerships with a variety of national and state institutions for faculty, student and curricula exchanges and joint research ventures, including Tuskegee University, Grambling State University, Hispanic Serving Institutions, University of Puerto Rico campuses, the Colorado Alliance for Minority Participation and federal laboratories in the Rocky Mountain region.

Other CU-Boulder units involved in the PEAKS Alliance activities include astrophysical and planetary sciences, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, environmental, population and organismic biology, kinesiology and applied physiology, molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, geological sciences, physics, applied mathematics, mathematics, aerospace engineering sciences, chemical engineering, civil, environmental, and architectural engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering.
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University of Colorado at Boulder

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