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THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN 9 RECOMMENDATIONS We propose a National Scholars Program for underparticipating minorities through which students can flourish and excel as young scholars and scientists. We envisage an educational environment that is committed to excellence and one in which National Scholars exemplify that excellence. The National Scholars Program should nurture talented minority students to enable them to achieve at the highest levels. In order to do so a National Scholars Program should establish a program continuum from high school through doctoral study in which institutions—and especially faculty—organizations, and others are committed to bringing National Scholars into the mainstream of teaching and research in a way that will nurture individual creativity, aspirations, and potential. Whereas an appointment as a National Scholar will be an honor for a student, we believe that the designation as a member of a National Scholars consortium will similarly confer honor upon institutional participants. The National Scholars Program is not intended to focus on spurring fundamental institutional reform. However, we do suggest that in establishing the kind of program we think is necessary, institutions will be enriched and strengthened as a consequence of the actions and activities that are implemented through a National Scholars Program. The benefits of such changes should not be limited to minority students. We are of the firm persuasion that the program will also benefit the broader institutional student and faculty communities. 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 disciplines. The program is designed to produce an additional 235 American Indian, Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander Ph.D. recipients every year in these fields, a figure which represents a doubling of the present output. At this level, the National Scholars Program should be a significant component in the broader context of national efforts to diversify the scientific and engineering work force. The goals of a National Scholars Program should not be posed solely in terms of individuals and numbers. We seek to encourage the establishment of an educational process wherein talented minorities are identified, encouraged, and empowered to succeed at the highest levels. The activities begun through the various consortiums should become a part of the fabric of the educational system such that minority access and
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THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN achievement become the norm, rather than a consequence of special effort. The National Scholars Program should also embody an idealistic goal which seeks to assure that National Scholars become scholars in the fullest sense of the term. They should seek not only to advance scientific inquiry but to develop skills in teaching and to accept responsibilities for assuring that other minorities can follow similar paths. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE A National Scholars Program should provide guidance and support for the development of 20 to 30 National Scholars consortiums. We propose a model that would have as its core collaboration among one or more undergraduate institutions, one or more graduate institutions or departments, and a precollege component. A consortium might choose to develop an intensive collaboration with specific precollege science education programs or a school system, initiate a new precollege activity, or develop linkages with several precollege programs to recruit talented participants into programs for undergraduate study at a consortium institution. A consortium should also develop linkages with other entities from the public and private sectors, such as disciplinary societies, minority and non-minority professional associations, business, industry, and community organizations. Several, although not necessarily all, of these elements should participate in a consortium. When we speak of consortiums, linkages, and program elements, we do not intend inordinate complexity but rather a concerted and serious effort to bring together key people and organizations that are committed to the success of the endeavor. We want to avoid bureaucracy but, nonetheless, insist on tangible evidence of effectiveness and genuine commitment from all who participate. We seek to encourage a partnership among programs, activities, resources, and good intentions in the context of academic excellence. We do not propose a standard model in the sense that all consortiums would be clones of a prescribed ideal. Instead, each consortium should assemble the educational partners and resources that will best accomplish its objectives. The program should be viewed as a vehicle to accomplish stated goals that would not be possible for individual institutions or organizations to accomplish independently. In forming partnerships, the emphasis should be that of "value added" in deciding who should participate and why. A National Scholars Coordinating Council should be appointed to set policy and oversee administration of the program. It should be responsible for developing program guidelines and the Request for Proposal (RFP), selecting the individual consortiums, providing technical assistance, fundraising and publicity, maintaining a national database and program evaluation, and organizing the annual National Scholars Program conference. The council should be supported by a small professional staff located at a university or associated with a scientific organization. PROGRAM ELEMENTS Each consortium must have a set of "non-negotiable" program elements that will form the educational core of the National Scholars Program. These include mentoring, academic advisement, research participation, tutoring/study groups, prefreshman summer bridge programs, structured teaching, and enrichment. The last element refers to a range
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THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN of possible activities such as study groups, travel to professional society meetings, workshops, and public service that will enhance academic achievement. Other kinds of enrichment activities may be determined by each consortium site. The identification, recruitment, and selection of students, financial aid, and program evaluation are other essential program components. We do not intend the National Scholar Program to be prescriptive by specifying long lists of program requirements. Instead we encourage creativity and individual initiative. We propose flexible guidelines, suggest practical strategies, and highlight promising models. We do not advocate mandatory, immutable rules. NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS In order to graduate 235 Ph.D.s each year, we estimate that the program should admit 750 entering college freshmen into the National Scholars Program. An additional 225 would be admitted as college sophomores or juniors. These students might be "late bloomers" who were not fully qualified for the program as freshmen or community college transfers. We would expect 725 to complete a bachelor's degree in the pertinent disciplines. Of that number approximately 50 percent would enter doctoral study, with 235 earning a Ph.D. at an institution in one of the NSP consortiums. These are general estimates, and there may be marked differences among fields of study. Engineering students may be inclined to accept employment after earning a bachelor's or a master's degree. Chemistry undergraduates may be attracted to medical school. Some students may find that they do not enjoy research and seek other career goals or switch majors. We do not, however, anticipate that significant numbers of students will leave the program because of academic difficulties. As the program matures, we would expect greater precision within individual consortiums about the likely academic progress of their respective students and a subsequent refinement of these estimates. COSTS We have estimated the costs for the implementation of the three pilot consortiums, for the implementation of the program in its steady state phase, and for the operation of the National Scholars Coordinating Council. We emphasize that our estimates, which are not adjusted for inflation, will be influenced by certain factors that cannot be determined until the program is actually implemented. These include cost-sharing provisions, the cost of attendance for undergraduates at the colleges and universities in the consortia, and the financial circumstance of the undergraduate scholars. By the twelfth year of the National Scholars Program, the program will reach steady state in terms of implementing the planned number of consortiums and by enrolling the full complement of undergraduate and graduate scholars. The total annual costs of the National Scholars Program in steady state are estimated to be $48.7 million. This figure includes $24.8 million for undergraduate scholarships, $1.5 million for summer bridge programs, $16.7 million for graduate student support, $4.2 million for consortium grants, and $1.5 for support of the activities of the National Scholars Coordinating Council.
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THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM: EXCELLENCE WITH DIVERSITY FOR THE FUTURE: PROGRAM DESIGN NEXT STEPS We recommend that NASA convene, in partnership with a national association or organization of scientists and engineers, an initial conference of educators and scientists to publicize the program and to inform pertinent organizations and individuals about its purposes and strategies. During this first conference, participants would discuss draft guidelines for implementing the program. Following the development of program guidelines, to be specified in a RFP, a second meeting should be convened for institutions and organizations that are prospective candidates for a National Scholars consortia and other interested participants. The purpose of this meeting would be to explain the requirements for preparing a proposal for funding to implement a consortium. There should be a pilot phase for the program, during which time three consortiums would be established. These would not be experimental. We are confident that our knowledge base is adequate to assure a high likelihood of success for these initial consortiums. However, information obtained from the experience of their first two years would indicate whether the activities are operating as planned and permit refinement of the guidelines for implementation of subsequent consortiums. Over the next three years other consortiums would be established and the full program implemented.
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