I will give you another example. I had two students who graduated from my group, both African Americans. A Dupont recruiter said that, regardless of what criteria he would have used—academic skills, gender, race, any criteria—those two students would have finished in the top 5 percent of his recruits. So not only are we taking students that some schools might consider marginal, we are producing a phenomenal product. That is why these companies are beating on our door. It is simply because they see a product that is incredible and suits their needs. They do not know the background. They do not know what we started out with. I think we are doing more than just pushing students through who would not have survived at other places. Although I am certain these are students who would not have made it at MIT or Berkeley, our close interactions with the students make an outstanding final product.
Iraj B. Nejad, National Science Foundation: I would like to applaud your effort as well and then ask a short question. If I understood it correctly, you showed a slide that said that about 7 percent of all degrees offered are to African Americans.
Steven F. Watkins: That is correct for the overall LSU population.
Iraj B. Nejad: That is not representative of the Louisiana population, which is 30 percent African American. My question is, with all the efforts that you have in place—mentors, a committed faculty, a committed department, self-sustained recruiting—what else would it take to bring that percentage up?
Steven F. Watkins: All the HBCUs would have to close down. HBCUs are still a good venue and value for many undergraduate students. Undergraduates have alternatives, but graduate students do not; that is why we are succeeding in the graduate arena. The trend is upwards at LSU.
Robert L. Lichter, The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation: Isiah Warner’s last description reminded me of the comment that was made early in this workshop by Dr. Makinen: The focus has to be on the output, not on the input. If we restrict ourselves to the traditional methods of evaluation that focus on the input, we are not going to get the kinds of results that we are seeing.
Obviously you have challenged the traditional model for recruitment of graduate students and have succeeded in it. Are you doing anything more with the larger questions of graduate education taken broadly, challenging or revisiting traditional models, dealing with the kinds of issues that were brought up at an earlier workshop in this venue and that are going on now in other places in the country? It seems to me that you have a great opportunity.
Steven F. Watkins: We are probably not doing as well in that area. We have focused on recruitment and retention in this program, which is fairly traditional. We need to think about that; maybe we need your help.
Joseph S. Thrasher, University of Alabama: I, too, would like to commend you for your efforts.
I am curious about a question you raised. I am sure we do not have time to get the answers now, but I would like to hear any ideas on how to improve the professoriate to make more of these students want to pursue the academic career path. Perhaps industry has some interesting ideas.
I would like to close with one observation or comment. I am sure everybody in this room is convinced about the need to recruit minorities in science, but I think we need to do more to get the word out. There are a lot of people out there who obviously are not convinced how acute this underrepresentation problem is.