Georgia Southern University was recently ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the top ten schools in the United States for minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The list ranked Georgia Southern 10th among universities that are well-known for quality education and consistently graduate high percentages of minorities in these fields.
Bret Danilowicz, dean of the Allen E. Paulson College of Science and Technology, said the primary reasons Georgia Southern has been so successful at recruiting and retaining minority students in science, technology, engineering and math degree programs relates to the departments’ philosophies on faculty makeup, undergraduate research and outreach.
“We have been very successful in hiring minority faculty, who become wonderful role models for students and we have a number of minority-focused student organizations that provide additional recognition and support,” he said. “We also strongly encourage undergraduates to get involved in research as early as their freshman year, which has been proven to improve retention rates for minority students. Nearly all of our students who become involved in research early remain in our programs.”
Danilowicz said Georgia Southern acquired a National Science Foundation Science Talent Expansion Program grant, called ASPIRES, which secures 10-20 research positions for freshmen each summer. Engaging students, especially minorities, in research this early creates a solid foundation for their educational futures.
“Georgia Southern faculty also focus on outreach opportunities to improve education at the middle and high school level,” he said. “We show high school teachers how to be better instructors in science, engineering, technology and math. Because teachers become more effective and knowledgeable, minority students are exposed to these educational opportunities and careers at a younger age.”
Teachers across Georgia and the southeastern U.S. who specialize in these areas benefit from numerous grants received by Georgia Southern faculty to support improving education in schools. The grants pay for programs that provide development and enrichment opportunities for high school teachers in subjects like physics, biology and other sciences that they take back their classrooms. Georgia Southern is also the only state affiliate for Project Lead the Way, a national program that shows teachers the best ways to teach engineering at the middle and high school levels.