The National Science Foundation has awarded St. Bonaventure University almost $600,000 to help recruit talented students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.
The five-year grant of $594,287 will allow the university to provide more need-based aid to talented students who might not otherwise be able to attend St. Bonaventure.
“This award expresses significant peer recognition by NSF and is a testament to the collaborative vision of faculty, administration and staff in sustained excellence at St. Bonaventure University in STEM education,” said Dr. Wolfgang Natter, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.
The grant proposal didn’t simply ask for money to support recruitment of STEM students, but laid out a comprehensive framework that detailed how the students would achieve success at St. Bonaventure.
Titled “Discovery Within Community,” the program’s primary objective is to recruit for the fall 2015 freshman class a cohort of 25 academically talented students with financial need to the biology, chemistry, computer science, math, and physics programs.
But its secondary objective is to enhance STEM support services to improve academic performance and increase student retention rates.
Key components of the plan include housing the students together to form a learning community; taking several core-area courses together; and taking a special STEM course that explores the multidisciplinary character of 21st century scientific discovery.
The grant proposal cited research that a cohort model and sharing classes and a residence hall improve the educational experience, said Dr. Peter Schneible, O.F.M., assistant professor of biology.
“St. Bonaventure has always taken seriously its role as a mentoring community so this program is a perfect fit for us,” said Schneible, who will serve as principal investigator and oversee administration of the program.
Most of the grant money will be dedicated to financial aid, but a small amount will be allotted to cover conference travel of the student fellows, small stipends for the program coordinators, and payments for STEM tutors through the university’s Teaching and Learning Center.
The program will also provide field trips to companies and connect students to internship and job placement opportunities. Critical elements of the program are the internship and career pathways involving local businesses and companies, Natter said.
“GOACC is honored to partner with St. Bonaventure to connect science and technology majors with area employers for internships and experiential learning,” said Larry Sorokes, CEO of Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce. “Facilitating career-development opportunities for young people is a critical element in our economic development strategy, and this new program is an excellent example of business-education collaboration.”
STEM faculty also will engage students in collaborative research, lead trips to STEM conferences, and encourage students to present at these conferences and publish in academic journals.
The program’s ultimate objective is to ensure that at least 90 percent of the students who graduate from the program in four years will secure employment with a STEM employer or enter a STEM graduate school program.
A symposium will connect fellows with STEM professionals and introduce students to career opportunities. Students also will participate in career and graduate school preparatory activities coordinated by St. Bonaventure’s Career and Professional Readiness Center.
The grant proposal said St. Bonaventure exemplified Ernest Boyer’s principles of community in higher education: purposeful community, open community, just community, disciplined community, caring community, and celebrative community.
“This DWC program will build on this heritage and specifically enhance it for students in the STEM fields,” Schneible said.
Dr. Steve Andrianoff (computer science), Dr. David Hilmey (chemistry), Dr. Doug Cashing (mathematics), and Dr. Jerry Kiefer (physics) will serve as co-principal investigators and help Schneible manage and support the program.
For more information on the DWC program, contact Schneible at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (716) 375-2538.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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