out the 20th century, many of the best figures in science and engineering had parents who came from other countries. Today, the majority of black students on Ivy League campuses have parents from another country. “It has everything to do with the hunger for the knowledge,” Hrabowski said. “You have to work really hard.”
During the discussion period, Hrabowski remarked on some of the factors behind the success of the Meyerhoff Program, which is the national leader in producing African American graduates at a predominantly white school who go on to complete their PhD in science and engineering, with 12 to 15 of these graduates typically earning a STEM PhD each year. The program has created a culture where it is “cool to be smart,” Hrabowski said. Multiple academic and social connections link students to each other, to faculty members, and to community members. Students are engaged in projects rather than just sitting in lectures, which has required that courses be redesigned. Students are connected with companies through classroom projects and internships to show them what it takes to get a good job. Graduates who get these jobs in turn come back and talk with students. Recent graduates and current students know better than anyone else how to get more students involved.
Hrabowski has written books on raising smart black children (Hrabowski et al., 2002; Hrabowski, Maton, and Greif, 1998), and he emphasized what parents in successful families do: work with their children to develop their reading, thinking, and studying skills. Succeeding in mathematics or science is not always fun, and he emphasized, “Hard work is hard work. We have to get students engaged in the work.”
Hrabowski also noted during the discussion session that completion of degree programs is a problem at community colleges. “Anybody from a community college knows what I am saying. Most of the kids who start off saying they want something at a two-year college do not finish the program,” he said. NSF should support an effort to assess what percentage of community college students who start in STEM programs finish them, Hrabowski urged.
Faculty and staff involvement is critical. Many faculty are not familiar with the data regarding contributors to student performance. In making decisions about education, they tend to rely on anecdotal or impressionistic information, according to Hrabowski. Effective interventions require that actions be based on data.
Summit participant Rebecca Hartzler, now at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, pointed out that the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in some fields might need to