NSF funds Kansas State University-led Kansas Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program
Monday, Sept. 24, 2018
The Kansas Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program, led by Kansas State University, aims to double the number of underrepresented minorities graduating with bachelor's degrees in STEM fields from Kansas State University or Wichita State University.
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University is helping lead the way in increasing the number of Kansas students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
The National Science Foundation has funded a five-year, $3 million continuance of the Kansas Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, or KS-LSAMP, program. The program aims to increase the quality and quantity of students successfully completing STEM degrees and recognizes Louis Stokes, a long-term African American congressman from Ohio. The Kansas alliance was originally formed in 2013.
Along with Kansas State University, original KS-LSAMP members are Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Donnelly College in Kansas City, Garden City Community College in Garden City and Seward County Community College/Area Technical School in Liberal. The new award adds Barton County Community College in Great Bend and Wichita State University in Wichita to help the program serve more students. All members of the KS-LSAMP have established recruitment and retention programs to serve the needs of underrepresented minority students, including African-Americans, Native Americans/American Indians and Hispanic/Latino students.
The overall goal of the program is to double the number of underrepresented minorities graduating with bachelor's degrees in STEM fields from Kansas State University or Wichita State University within the five years of the proposed project.
Kansas State University Provost Charles Taber, principal investigator of the new project, said the program will help partner institutions address workforce needs.
"The Kansas Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation will develop innovative pathways that reflect the unique institutional characteristics and student demographics of each partner institution," Taber said. "I am very excited that this partnership will open so many opportunities for diverse students to earn STEM degrees, which will in turn serve critical regional and state workforce needs."
The project will include specialized activities at critical junctures for students, such as when they are transitioning from high school to college, moving from a two-year to a four-year institution, and making the freshman-to-sophomore transition at four-year institutions.
"We know that providing support at these crucial times helps retain students, and this program has had success in the past," Taber said. "It's also well-aligned with Foresight 2020, the Kansas Board of Regents strategic plan."
Foresight 2020 articulates a goal of having 60 percent of the Kansas population achieve a postsecondary credential. Key to accomplishing this goal is increasing postsecondary participation from first-generation college students, particularly students from groups that have not historically been represented in postsecondary education.
Each alliance partner has identified new initiatives to complement those already in place. These initiatives include focused and enhanced recruiting; STEM clubs to allow networking of students interested in those fields; student enhancement programs such as research opportunities, internships, math immersion and summer bridge programs; a focus on career development; formal and peer tutoring; and improved student tracking.
Co-principal investigators at Kansas State University represent the colleges involved in the project and the Office of Research Development. They include Kimathi Choma, assistant dean for diversity, retention and inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences; Bette Grauer, assistant dean for retention, diversity and inclusion in the College of Engineering; Zelia Wiley, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Agriculture; and Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research. The university's project coordinator is Brenee King. Project leaders at partner institutions have leadership roles at their respective schools.