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1 INTRODUCTION This report has been developed to respond to a request from the National Aeronautics and Space (NASA) to design a National Scholars Program to increase the number of underparticipating minorities earning Ph.D.s in mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering. The distinctive characteristics of the proposed program are (~) a continuum of academic and financial support for participants beginning in high school and continuing through Ph.D. study, and (2) coordination with other science education initiatives funded by NASA and/or other agencies, organizations? and institutions. This report provides data on the need for such a program and offers an overview of the recommended program design. A detailed discussion of program design can be found in The National Scholars Program: Excellence with Diversityfor the Future MARC 1996a). We recommend that NASA implement a National Scholars Program because the proposed program is well suited to NASA's mission, specific interests, and capabilities. However, · ~ Administration such a program could be implemented by others, as well' because the principles underlying the program are applicable to a range of settings and sponsors. The organizational structure is intended to be flexible in order to build on and collaborate with existing initiatives that already have an infrastructure and some elements of the proposed program. We view the National Scholars Program as a mechanism for NASA and other institutions or organizations to contribute to ~ hrnad-ha.ser1 effort that they ~ J ~ acting alone, could not otherwise mount. BACKGROUND NASA's education mission gives high priority to diversifying the science and engineering work force. In its Strategic Plan for Education ~ASA 1992, 43), NASA outlined four management priorities to guide change. The third "ttio identify, articulate, and employ an integrated agency strategy to significantly increase ethnic and gender diversity in the science and technology pipeline" was bolstered by the 1993 Report of the University Relations Task Force of the NASA Advisory Council, established to review the NASA-university relationship. The task force recommended that greater participation of women en c! minorities representts] an explicit, top priority in the evolution of the NASA- university relationship? and that greater emphasis be placed on joint NASA- university programs specifically directed Additional resources will be required to support these programs since the proportion of women and - -a r -c~- towarcl this coal.
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minorities in the working-age population continues to increase (p. 5~. There is also a broader policy context reflected in NASA's education priorities, namely the objectives of the National Education Goals to eliminate "the gap in high school graduation rates between American students from minority backgrounds and their non-minority counterparts" ant! to increase significantly "[tithe number of U.S. undergraduate and graduate students' especially women and minorities, who complete degrees in mathematics, science, and engineering" (National Education Goals Pane] 1993' x-xi). The concept of a National Scholars Program was developed in response to wiclespread recognition that, despite the many nationwide programs for minorities created in the past two decades, there has been little increase in the representation of minorities in science and engineering at the doctoral level. In 1987 and 1989 the Atlanta University Center hosted two NASA-sponsored con ferences/workshops at which experts in the fields of education, science, and engineering developed a conceptual framework and design for a National Scholars Program. The goal of the program was to quadruple the number of underrepresented rn~norities earning Ph.D.s each year in science, engineering, and technology by the year 2002. Conference participants noted that, although laudable individual programs had focused on the problem for some time, their collective impact had been minimal. Among the chief reasons for this disappointing progress were the lack of a long-term' coordinated strategy and inadequate itnding for a very fragmented · plpe line. A National Scholars Program would develop a comprehensive program of academic enrichment and financial support for students that would begin in high school and continue through doctoral study. This would be accomplished by a coordinated national strategy to harness the resources of individual programs? agencies, organizations, and the private sector in support of a common goal.
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