Dec 10, 2010

Via BlackAmericaWeb:
Students at historically black colleges and universities who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math are more involved in their studies, participate more in faculty research and have higher graduation rates than black students at non-HBCUs, according to recent U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reports.
The reports, titled "The Educational Effectiveness of Historically Black Colleges and Universities" and "Encouraging Minority Students to Pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers," were released earlier this week and in many ways support theories long discussed at HBCUs.

The commission found that HBCUs produce a disproportionately high share of African-American students who receive degrees in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics. Though only about 20 percent of African-American college students attend HBCUs, 40 percent of all African-American engineers received their degrees from an HBCU.
Also, when it comes to producing African-Americans with doctorates in science fiends, among the top 21 programs, 17 were HBCUs, according to the report.
Take Xavier University in New Orleans, for example. Of the 3,400 students enrolled at the historic institution, 64 percent are seeking degrees in STEMS fields, and the larger percent of students are majoring in biology and chemistry.
"We began many years ago putting into place summer programs in the science and math fields for high school students, also obtaining grants and special recognition for the programs we were developing in the STEM fields," Dr. Loren Blanchard, senior vice president, told via email. "It's always been considered important here, plus we see it as vitally connected to our mission."
For Xavier, the emphasis on STEMS pays off. Since 1993, Xavier has been number one when it comes to sending undergraduate students on to medical school, university officials said. And Xavier is number three when it comes to producing black students who go on to receive doctor of pharmacy degrees.
The story of success for students in STEMS fields is similar at Spelman College in Atlanta, a prestigious all-female institution.
At Spelman, about one-third of the college's 2,200 students are pursuing degrees in STEMS fields, said spokeswoman Terrilyn Simmons.
Like Xavier, Spelman has a strategy for encouraging high school students to study science, technology, engineering and math and pursue degrees in college.
"Spelman College recruits heavily at high schools that have a strong emphasis on math, science and technology. In addition, through various recruiting initiatives such as 'A Day in Your Life,' the college exposes potential students and high school administrators to the college's strong research programs top-notch faculty members and the cutting-edge technology utilized in STEM majors," said Arlene Cash, Spelman's vice president for enrollment management. 
The emphasis on math, science and technology is part of the Spelman mission and a natural fit for a curriculum designed to prepare future leaders, Spelman professors said.
"Our students are living in the information age and need to be prepared to work in the global 'high information' industry and not just 'high tech,'" said Dr. Andrew Williams, chairman and associate professor of Computer and Information Sciences.
"If you see what is happening with companies such as Google or research in genomic medicine, there's a need for students to be able to adequately analyze, organize and extract knowledge from data to work in interdisciplinary teams," he said.
Spelman in 2005 placed the first all-woman, African-American team in the RoboCup four-legged soccer competiton, considered the Olympics of robotics and artificial intelligence.


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