Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 7
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN 2 PROGRAM GOALS The purpose of a National Scholars Program is to increase the number of underparticipating minorities who earn Ph.D.s in mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering. We propose that the program double the number of Ph.D.s earned by American Indians, Blacks, Latinos, and Pacific Islanders in these fields. The program must also embody an idealistic goal which seeks to assure that National Scholars who earn the Ph.D. become scholars in the fullest sense of the term. They should seek not only to become learned experts who search for knowledge but also scholars who transmit their learning to others. It is expected that these scholars will accept the responsibility for conducting excellent science and for assuring that more minorities follow in their footsteps. The National Scholars Program will not focus on fundamental reform of the educational system, but it will affect positive changes. Through a combination of program activities and preconditions for institutional participation, the National Scholars Program should foster an educational environment that will enhance student development for minorities as well as for all students in the broader campus community. NUMERICAL GOALS The goal of the National Scholars Program is to produce 235 minority Ph.D.s in the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering disciplines each year—twice the number of degrees presently awarded. We use as our baseline figure 233 Ph.D.s conferred to Blacks, American Indians, and Latinos who were U.S. citizens or noncitizens holding permanent resident visas in the above fields in 1994. We emphasize the importance of distinguishing minorities who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents from those who enter the U.S. to attend graduate school and later obtain permanent resident status or become U.S. citizens. Within the Latino population, the primary emphasis should be on Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, although recent immigrants from Central America with educational experiences similar to those of Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans may also be considered. Pacific Islanders are included as one of the target groups, although data are not available on the number of Ph.D.s earned by Pacific Islanders in 1994. In short, our primary concern is the educational achievements of minorities who have been educated in U.S. elementary and secondary schools.
OCR for page 8
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN In terms of disciplines, we intend for the program to cover a broad spectrum. It will include the traditional fields associated with the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering, as well as interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary fields such as computer science, biophysics, and statistics. It will also be open to the inclusion of new, emerging fields which may represent the forefront of knowledge. This goal should be achieved within 10 years after full implementation of the program. We think that this is a reasonable target and will signify one measure of genuine progress. At present three percent of Ph.D.s in these fields are conferred to African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and American Indians. Doubling this number will mean that about six percent of Ph.D.s (assuming that the total number of degrees conferred in these fields does not increase) will be earned by minority men and women. For purposes of comparison, it should be noted that these minority groups made up 22 percent of the total U.S. population in 1990 and 27 percent of the school-age population (NSF 1990, 4). At a time when there is widespread concern about employment opportunities for new Ph.D.s, it is pertinent to examine the numerical impact of a program that intends to produce more Ph.D.s (COSEPUP 1995, 63). In 1994 U.S. universities awarded 12,647 Ph.D.s in mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering, the equivalent of a four percent increase over the prior year. That same year 1,813 Asians who were U.S. citizens or noncitizen permanent residents received Ph.D.s in these disciplines, a figure that is several times that for all other minority groups. By comparison, the proposed goal of 235 additional Ph.D.s is small relative to overall Ph.D. production in the pertinent fields. It will, however, have a significant impact on the number of underparticipating minorities earning a Ph.D. degree. A National Scholars Program will not operate in a vacuum. Other national initiatives to increase minority participation in the scientific and technological work force are already underway. For example, the National Science Foundation has drafted a plan in which it proposes a set of milestones by which to measure progress. "The Foundation 's goals are to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in NSF-supported fields receiving B.S. degrees to over 50,000 annually by the year 2000 and to increase the minority Ph.D. attainment to over 2,000 by the year 2000 (NSF 1994b). The NSF goal applies to a target population that differs in several respects from that which we have identified. It is limited to U.S. citizens but includes "Other Hispanics" in addition to Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans. The life science and social science disciplines are also included. NSF has initiated a range of programs to accomplish these goals. They emphasize long-term reform by establishing comprehensive science and mathematics and technology education programs in school systems that enroll large numbers of minorities and coalitions to improve minority achievement on college and university campuses. In contrast to a National Scholars Program, these efforts do not specifically target a subset of talented, high-achieving students who are the most likely prospects for doctoral study. Another national initiative is the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Project's Action Council on Minority Education which challenged the nation in 1990 to take action to improve the educational achievement of minority Americans. In its plan the council emphasized science and mathematics education and specified a
OCR for page 9
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN number of goals, including quadrupling the number of minority students receiving baccalaureate degrees in the physical and life sciences and engineering from about 17,000 in 1987 to 68,000 in 2000 and tripling the number of minorities receiving doctorates, especially in science and engineering. In 2000, at least 1,200 minority students should earn these degrees (QEM 1990, 8). QEM uses a narrow definition of science and engineering by excluding the social science disciplines, although it does include the life sciences. QEM specifies, as does NSF, American minority students. In 1992 QEM called for a coalition of the major public and private sector institutions and organizations that "determine, rely on, and care about the quality and quantity of minority mathematicians, scientists, and engineers that the nation produces" (QEM 1992). In order to accomplish its goals, QEM outlined a set of strategies that would begin with enrichment activities in junior high school. Further, talented college juniors would be identified to participate in summer research and receive undergraduate and graduate fellowships and assistantships. A National Scholars Program would contribute to the achievement of a subset of the national goals put forth by the NSF and QEM. Given all of these other initiatives, and a possible increase in the number of minority Ph.D.s that may already be under way, how can the National Scholars Program demonstrate that the proposed increase of 235 Ph.D.s is a result of this program? The candid answer is that it cannot. There is no way to predict what the numbers of minority Ph.D.s would be without this program, nor to identify which students pursued science and engineering degrees only because they were National Scholars. In addition, we expect existing targeted programs, such as NIH's Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) and NSF's Minority Graduate Fellowship Program, to continue to produce Ph.D.s At the same time, the current numbers are so small that we can say with confidence that a doubling of those numbers will not occur without a program such as this one. Such a dramatic increase will help develop a critical mass of minority scientists and engineers which now exists almost nowhere. We know that the creation of those critical masses will encourage other minority students to consider science and engineering careers, as they see role models and find mentors. Although the percentages are still very small, there have been modest increases in Ph.D.s among underrepresented groups over the past decade (see Appendix Table B-3). The National Scholars Program will build on this momentum and help insure that the numbers continue to grow. WHY THE Ph.D.? We believe the objective of a National Scholars Program is most appropriately targeted to increase the number of minorities earning a Ph.D. There are several reasons for this. First, minorities have achieved the least success at the Ph.D. level relative to other degree levels. As described above, few minorities are among those earning Ph.D.s in mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering. The cumulative and collective impacts of barriers to achievement in science and engineering, including poor precollege preparation, lack of informed guidance, negative peer influences, financial constraints, and/or inhospitable institutional environments, are evident in the low rate of doctorate attainment. The program should prepare its graduates for the most challenging and
OCR for page 10
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN demanding aspects of science, mathematics, and engineering. Although not the only purpose, a central purpose of the program is to increase the numbers of minorities who will be qualified to obtain faculty positions in distinguished universities, in order to contribute to the training of the next generation of minority scholars. However, the program should also educate National Scholars for a variety of careers in educational institutions that are less research oriented, as well as for jobs in government and in the private sector. The 1995 report of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) urged the graduate education enterprise to " . . . implement several basic reforms to enhance the educational experience of future scientists and engineers who will work in either academic or nonacademic settings" (COSEPUP 1995, 4). We value and wish to continue to prepare students for traditional teaching and research positions, but students should be offered options to prepare for a broader variety of careers in science and engineering. By focusing on the Ph.D. we do not mean to imply that those who participate in the National Scholars Program and then decide to leave the program after completing a bachelor's or a master's degree should be regarded as failures. Some may choose to work in rewarding and challenging jobs in science and engineering that do not require a Ph.D., such as biotechnology. Others may switch to other disciplines, having acquired a thorough grounding in mathematics and basic science courses that will equip them to succeed in a variety of careers. These students will have added substantial value because of their participation in the program. The important national benefits of increasing the number of minority Ph.D.s, however, would not be accomplished if the program were to focus on other degrees. It is at this level that underrepresentation is the most severe. It is at the Ph.D. level that scientists and engineers have the greatest visibility in the research community, opportunity to exercise leadership, and responsibility to train and nurture other minority scholars. Although many side benefits will ensue from this program, it will be critical for the success of the program to stay focused on this single degree goal. IDEALISTIC GOALS The goal of the National Scholars Program is certainly a numerical goal intended to increase the number of Ph.D. degrees earned by excellently prepared underparticipating minorities. However, this goal is also an idealistic goal. The idealistic goal strives to assure that National Scholars who earn their Ph.D. degree become scholars in the fullest sense of the term. Regardless of their sector of employment (academe, government, or industry), they should seek not only to become learned experts who search for knowledge but also scholars who transmit their learning to others. An increase in the number of American scholars devoted to these twin goals will be of general benefit to American science and engineering, because there is a compelling need for greater attention to teaching of the highest quality by scholars of the highest quality, especially in the nation's universities. It is expected that these scholars will accept the responsibility for conducting excellent science and assuring that more and more minorities follow in their footsteps. Until there are more excellent minority scholars who demonstrate a commitment to this developmental responsibility, the participation of talented minorities in the sciences and engineering will lag behind that of other groups in our society.
OCR for page 11
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN LONG-TERM GOAL The success of a National Scholars Program should not be measured solely by the achievement of a numerical target, and it should be more than "changing people." In outlining the design of the program, we call for certain kinds of institutional commitments, linkages, and faculty conversations that will have a positive effect on educational institutions. The form of what we are proposing is neither revolutionary nor even novel. However, the substance of the faculty and student linkages will enhance not only the success of minority students but the success of all students. In the long run, the greatest measure of the success of the National Scholars Program should be that it will no longer be needed. We hope that the lessons learned will be shared with other institutions and organizations to enable them to renew their educational processes in ways that are conducive to student development in the broadest sense.
OCR for page 12
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN This page in the original is blank.
Representative terms from entire chapter: