A $270,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will give scholarship aid to select freshmen and sophomores who want to major in computer science, mathematics, or an engineering field at the University of Rochester. The special nature of the grant is intended to support low-income students in disciplines where the attrition rate can be high.
"We have designed a program to aggressively support and retain students before they declare their majors at the end of the sophomore year," says William Scott Green, dean of the College and principal investigator of the project. "We will create unique learning communities for students in each targeted discipline and then supplement that environment with enrichment and group-building activities."
Along with added academic support, additional funds of about $3,000 for each participating student will help reduce a dependence on loans or work-study burdens. Since women and members of minority groups are often underrepresented in these fields, they will make up at least half of those in the new program.
"We expect that these intensive support services will keep students in their majors until graduation and help them earn higher grades," says Beth Olivares, who will coordinate the program. For six years, Olivares has directed the McNair Program at the University, which mentors students from groups underrepresented at the doctoral level. Since 1993, 70 percent of McNair Program alumni at Rochester have gone on to graduate work at institutions across the country.