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SRSU McNair program grant renewed

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Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:13 am

Five more years.

Sul Ross State University received notification Aug. 28 of a renewal of a five-year, $1.1 million grant to fund the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program for undergraduate research. The new grant period, beginning Oct. 1, extends through Sept. 30, 2017, with an annual allocation of $220,000.

McNair Program director Mary Bennett noted that the grant renewal was especially significant, since about $10 million has been cut from the program. About one-third of the approximately 225 existing programs nationwide will be eliminated.

“We are very pleased and appreciative that we have the opportunity to continue to serve eligible West Texas students by preparing them for graduate studies,” Bennett said.

The McNair Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.

Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion, the program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO programs.

Bennett; Greg Schwab, professor of Fine Arts; and Marilyn McGhee, director of Sponsored Programs, wrote and submitted the grant renewal application in June.

Points are awarded on the strength of the application itself, as well as extra competition preference points and prior experience points, which measure meeting and exceeding goals and objectives for the previous funding period.

Since 2008, when records were first kept, 87 percent of Sul Ross’ McNair Program Scholars (33 of 38) who enrolled in graduate school have either earned master’s degrees or are still enrolled. A total of 78 percent of all McNair Program graduates went on to graduate school.

“Campus-wide, the McNair Program has received tremendous backing,” Bennett said. “We have enjoyed a great success rate because faculty mentors have been fully involved with the students, the administration has been extremely supportive and the students themselves have demonstrated great dedication.”

Sul Ross’ McNair Program annually enrolls 20 or more junior and senior students. Bennett said that 12 students have already been accepted for the 2012-2013 academic year, with 8-10 more slots available. Application deadline is Nov. 1.

Participating students receive a stipend of $2,000 and three semester credit hours (during the first summer session) for completed research projects. Projects include an academic paper, PowerPoint presentation and poster. Research is presented at the on-campus McNair-Tafoya Symposium during the following Fall Semester (scheduled Oct. 24). In addition, students are encouraged to present their findings at state and national conferences.

For more information, contact Bennett, 432-837-8478 or mbennett@sulross.edu.

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