A partnership between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland Baltimore County with one year of support from HHMI is an experiment that has been designed to capitalize on the striking and sustained success of the Meyerhoff Program at UMBC. We intend to adapt overarching strategies from the Meyerhoff Program to our large flagship public research university.
Our goal for the new Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program is to produce a dramatic increase in the number of high achieving under-represented undergraduate students in science that attain advanced STEM degrees. Our experience at UNC-CH as we build a robust STEM pipeline for high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds who are interested pursuing advanced degrees and obtaining leadership positions in the biomedical sciences may provide a helpful framework for building robust programs for increasing PhD attainment for minority scientists.
The Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC is a strengths based program that has produced more African American STEM PhDs at a higher "yield" than any other majority-serving university in the nation. In addition to the production of minority scientists, the Meyerhoff Scholars Program has produced multiple positive impacts at UMBC, particularly in STEM areas. The Meyerhoff Program has been at the center of the transformations in teaching introductory science courses, and as a positive collateral outcome the attitudes and expectations of the UMBC faculty have been dramatically elevated with respect to student achievement.
This Chancellor’s Science Scholars project at UNC is an experiment to determine whether similar results can be obtained at a large public research university by adopting and adapting the essential elements of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. We plan to identify institutional barriers to success and to chart general strategies to overcome those barriers. We intend to continually assess student progress and to thoroughly document both our efforts and our outcomes.
By providing (a) an intensive pre-matriculation summer bridge to facilitate high academic achievement at the college level, (b) an early introduction to research, (c) mentoring and advising, and (d) inclusion in a scholarly community, we anticipate that this program will lead to a significant increase in the number high-achieving underrepresented minority students that pursue STEM graduate degrees and to an overall cultural change in the way science is taught and perceived at UNC-CH.