McNair Scholars Program receives $1.23 mil grant
UALR’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was recently awarded a $1.23 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for an additional five years of operation.
The organization, which is also known as the McNair Scholars Program, is one of 17 in the nation to receive a second round of federal funding this fall. The grant will be used for seminars and workshops, which serve as a crucial part of the program’s mission of preparing low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students for opportunities in higher education.
According to assistant director Gwendolyn Middleton, much of the funding for McNair Scholars, which is part of a group known as TRIO, has been cut in favor of programs in the science, engineering and technology fields.
“The leadership of this country feels that it is important to invest in an education that will produce graduates to fill positions quickly so our country can be competitive in a worldwide arena,” she said. “… It is that same outlook from the U.S. Department of Education that speared their decision to cut $10 million from the McNair Scholars program and reallocate them to the Upward Bound Math and Science Program.”
Despite national cutbacks, the program at UALR is expected to experience an increase in activity. After a university proposal to expand resources and capacity was submitted and approved by the Department of Education, the McNair Scholars Program was allowed to increase the number of participating students.
“We agreed to increase the number of students served each year from 25 to 28,” Middleton said. “This may seem like a small increase, but in lieu of the cuts TRIO has suffered, the message was essentially relayed to the Department of Education that we could do more with less because we have the experience.”
Since 1991, the McNair Scholars Program at UALR has served over 500 students. Eighty past participants are currently pursuing their graduate degrees while 22 are aiming for doctoral degrees. While this is viewed as a great achievement, Middleton said the real reward is in the students themselves.