CRPC-Supported Sloan Conference Addresses Need for Minority Graduates in Science and Engineering

Ted Greenwood, Program Director at the Sloan Foundation talks to the group.
The critical need for minority graduates and leaders in science and engineering was the focus of a national conference held March 11-12 at Rice University. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Engineering and Science Underrepresented Minority Ph.D. Recruitment and Retention Conference gave leaders and students participating in the Sloan Minority Program the opportunity to discuss current issues, challenges, and problems that affect minority graduate education and share ways to strengthen and enhance their programs. "As the number of minority students receiving undergraduate degrees in mathematics, science and engineering has edged slowly upward in recent years, the number entering Ph.D. programs has not kept pace," said Ted Greenwood, program director of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "The Sloan Foundation seeks out faculty who can successfully recruit, mentor and graduate minority students with Ph.D.s in these fields. The Foundation provides financial support to the minority students that these faculty recruit and recruitment funding to the faculty."
Richard Tapia, CRPC Director of Education and Human Resources and Noah Harding Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice, works with the Sloan Foundation and organized the conference. "Programs like the Sloan-funded one will become increasingly important in this post-affirmative action era," said Tapia, "if we are to prepare not only the quantity, but also the quality of students the country needs to solve the critical lack of minority leadership at the national level."
Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resources Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was the keynote speaker at the conference. She addressed "Science and Engineering: The Next Generation, How to Meet the Workforce Needs of the Future at a Time of Changing Demographics." "The growth of the workforce of the future will come from women and minorities," said Malcom. "As good jobs become more based in science and technology, it is in everyone's interest to prepare students for them, including the interest of industry." Topics of presentations and discussions held during the conference included the following:
  • Minority Representation: How Far Have We Come?
  • Recruiting at Minority Institutions
  • Recruiting at Majority Institutions
  • Future of the Sloan Minority Programs
  • Motivating Students to Pursue Graduate Education
  • Assessing Prospective Minority Graduate Students
  • Large Group Discussion on Assessment and Admissions
  • Academic Preparation: Bridge Programs
  • Mentoring: What it is and isn't
  • Fostering a Cultural Shift in Majority Institutions
  • What Research Tells Us About the Future of Minority Graduate Education
  • Developing an Information Network on Prospective Minority Students
  • Placing Graduates into Careers (Especially Academic)

Richard Tapia introduces Shirley Malcom, Director for Education and Human Resources Programs, AAAS.

Students who talked during the conference (clockwise from the left): Melisa Ramos, Max Fontus, Michael Casaus and Nikki Williams.
Last fall, Rice earned a $2.5 million, 5-year Minority Graduate Education (MGE) grant from the National Science Foundation. (See "CRPC Education Programs Help Rice Win $2.5 Million Grant.") The grant is allowing Rice to develop and explore effective means to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities in science and engineering graduate research programs. The Sloan Conference was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and co-sponsored by the CRPC; the Education, Outreach and Training (EOT) team for the Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI); Rice's MGE program and George R. Brown School of Engineering; and the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education at Rice. For more information about the conference, see For more information on the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, see
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