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The Best of Our Knowledge # 956



With this program, we begin our special two-week celebration honoring the federal holiday and birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ironically, the federal holiday of the slain civil rights leader falls in the same week as the country inaugurates its first African-American president.

According to a report by David Glenn in "The Chronicle of Higher Education", universities worry about the "stark disparity between minority student's share of the population and their share of Ph.D.'s, especially in engineering and the sciences."

Daryl Chubin agrees. Chubin is Director of the Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity, a project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He says "we are underutilizing a lot of talent in this country women and underrepresented minorities are not participating in the sciences anywhere close to their representation in the general population."

At an annual meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington last month, several higher education leaders said "there is no legitimate reason for universities to give up on diversifying doctoral education." They said "successful models are out there and out to be imitated."

We've reported on this show before about the successful Meyerhoff Scholarship Program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore Country. Science and engineering doctoral programs on that campus have seen nearly a 45% increase in students from underrepresented minority groups.

Indeed, like Meyerhoff, we found another highly successful program at historically black Norfolk State University in Virginia. NSU created its own scholarship program way back in 1985 to encourage African-American students to pursue degrees in science and engineering.

The demonstrated success of Norfolk State's STEM program seems to indicate that both current and former scholarship recipients have enjoyed considerably higher graduation rates, as well as the ability to earn graduate and professional degrees at much higher rates than their peers.

Richard Paul reports from Virginia. (12:06)

**(Listeners and Program Directors please note. If you would like to hear this story again, or part two of this story, it's available right now online at our specially dedicated website: www.womeninscience.org.)**



In this highly competitive global economy, the U.S. faces the daunting task of supplying our own nation with capable science and technology workers.

In the past 30-years, India, Communist China, South Korea, and Japan have more than doubled the number of students receiving bachelor's degrees in the natural sciences, and quadrupled the number earning engineering degrees. Since the late 1980s, the European Union has produced more science and engineering Ph.D.s than the United States. These countries are all hungry to succeed and are increasingly capable of doing so.

STEM is now, and will increasingly be, the universal languages of the global marketplace. The nations that invest heavily in STEM education, research, and the development of a skilled STEM workforce will enjoy leadership positions. American students are falling behind in the essential subjects of math and science, putting our position in the global economy at great risk.

STEM education prepares all students for the challenges and opportunities in today's 21st century economy, not just for careers as scientists. The National Science Foundation estimates that 80% of the jobs in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills.

This is the subject and background of our guest commentary today, which is written and delivered by Dr. Mel Schiavelli, Professor of Chemistry, and President of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania. Their website is HarrisburgU.net.

Dr. Mel Schiavelli comments. (4:28)