Challenges remain despite intense efforts of a multitude of institutions, over recent decades, to provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) access to underrepresented groups. The legal background to these efforts is dynamic. The Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of race as a factor in admissions to state universities, while in a recent ruling “the court ordered tighter scrutiny [in Texas] of race-conscious admissions, preserving the principle that affirmative action is permissible in some circumstances.”1
Martin Luther King, Jr., observed that “life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” and Nelson Mandela expressed the belief that “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” These statements succinctly define the fundamental role that HBCUs/MIs play and continue to play in fostering education through research in STEM programs. These institutions provide a critically valuable space where the promises of our democracy are accessible to citizens underrepresented in higher education in a nation experiencing dramatic shifts in demographics.2 Education within HBCUs/MIs contributes directly to the expansion of a nationally diverse scientific leadership and workforce because it is carried out within models of research and education where access, excellence, and impact3 are at the heart of their models of education. The long-term support and sustained funding provided by ARL and other federal programs to these institutions has been and continues to be critical to their ability to contribute to the nation’s workforce capacity in STEM.
Recent reports by the National Academy of Sciences4, 5 and by the Office of Science Technology and Policy6 have documented the challenges faced by dramatic increases in diversity, the challenges of global competition,7, 8 and the criticality of a college education in terms of income and employment.9
2U.S. Census Bureau. “U.S. Census Bureau Projections Show a Slower Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation a Half Century from Now,” December 12, 2012, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2012.html.
3Michael M. Crow, Differentiating colleges and universities: Institutional innovation at Arizona, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, September-October 2010.
4National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine (NAS, NAE, IOM), Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007.
5NAS, NAE, IOM, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010.
6Executive Office of the President, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), Report to the President: Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, PCAST, Washington, D.C., 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-executive-report-final_2-13-12.pdf.
7Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, N.Y., 2005.
8Public Law 110-69, America Competes Act, August 9, 2007.
In September of 2009, at a briefing session for the House education committee’s higher-education subcommittee, David M. Bressoud, president of the Mathematical Association of America, noted that “the 1990s saw significant decreases in both the number of engineering majors and mathematics majors. Both numbers have since recovered, but to only just above the level of 1990 [with] … recent recoveries … powered almost entirely by white males and non-U.S. residents. Women as well as African, Hispanic, and Native Americans are decreasing as a share of these majors …. The number of African Americans earning bachelor’s degrees in mathematics was higher in 1992 than in 2007.”10 The lack of diversity among STEM faculty is captured in the observation by Shirley Malcolm, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that “mathematics faculties are looking less and less like the student bodies that they are teaching.”11 The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s recent report of the initiative on faculty race and diversity12 also serves to highlight Shirley Malcolm’s observation on faculty diversity. The MIT report and the NRC report on expanding minority participation in STEM education13 highlight the impossibility of sustained change in faculty diversity without the continuous stream of highly determined young men and women completing baccalaureate STEM degrees at HBCU/MIs.
That NRC report notes that the proportion of underrepresented minorities in science and engineering would need to triple to match their share of the overall U.S. population, revealing a scale of effort that is substantial and that, so far, has been carried out overwhelmingly by HBCUs/MIs. The NRC report notes that the top 25 baccalaureate-of-origin institutions for African American doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering awarded 2,232 doctorates in the period 2002 through 2006; and the top 25 baccalaureate-of-origin institutions for Hispanic doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering awarded 2,038 doctorates in the same period.14 In fact, the top 10 baccalaureate-of-origin institutions for African American doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering are all HBCUs: Florida A&M University, Howard University, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Southern University and A&M College at Baton Rouge, Xavier University of Louisiana, Tuskegee University, and Morgan State University. Nine HSIs are ranked among the top 20 baccalaureate-of-origin institutions for Hispanic doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering: University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras, University of Puerto Rico Humacao, University of Texas El Paso, New Mexico State University System, Florida International University, University of California Irvine, University of New Mexico System, and the University of Texas San Antonio. Most of these HBCU and HSI institutions have received funding from ARL.
During the century and three-quarters that HBCUs have been evolving, they have been operating at a social and economic disadvantage; they still tend to have smaller endowments and receive less in both government support and private donations than other academic institutions do.15 They include both public and private institutions, and most are identified as small liberal arts, primarily undergraduate institutions enrolling from a few hundred to a few thousand students. About a quarter of them are universities with a research mission; they include undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional students and award graduate and professional degrees.
10For information about the September 22, 2009, briefing, see David M. Bressoud, “MAA Speaks Out on Capitol Hill,” Launchings blog, October 2009, http://www.maa.org/external_archive/columns/launchings/launchings_10_09.html.
11H.G._ Grundman, _Revisiting the question of diversity: Faculties and Ph.D. programs, Notices of the AMS 56(9):1115-1118, 2009.
12Rafael L. Reif, Report of the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., 2010, http://web.mit.edu/provost/raceinitiative/research-a.html.
13NAS, NAE, IOM, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation, 2010.
14Ibid., pp. 252, 259.
15Dexter Mullins, “Historically black colleges in financial fight for their future,” Al Jazeera America, October 22, 2013, http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/22/historically-blackcollegesfightfortheirfuture.html.
The historic mission of HBCUs has been the education of African American students and advancing the African American community of the United States, especially in the southern, Midwestern, and mid-Atlantic states where they are located. Over time they have become more racially and socioeconomically and culturally diverse, enrolling and employing a diverse population of people from the U.S. and abroad.
Up through the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the desegregation of U.S. higher education, HBCUs enrolled the majority of the nation’s black college students, and they produced the majority of degrees awarded to blacks in the United States. Most of the nation’s black faculty worked in these institutions, where they represented the majority of the faculty on their campuses. HBCU enrollments and their overall size have grown steadily over time; today they collectively enroll nearly 300,000 students of more ethnic and racial variety than in the past. Although they no longer enroll the majority of black college students or employ the majority of the nation’s African American faculty, they enroll and employ a larger share than they account for of students and faculty at the nation’s colleges and universities overall. Historically, they have produced graduates who have risen to leadership positions in science and other disciplines and fields.16
HSIs represented 6 percent of all institutions of higher education in 2003, enrolling about half of all Latino undergraduates.17 There are now 370 HSIs, an increase of roughly 60 percent from the 242 colleges that met the definition in 2003.18 Most HSIs were not originally established to serve a particular student population. HSIs are characterized by their enrollment ratios rather than by their institutional mission. However, there are several exceptions. For example, institutions in Puerto Rico were created with a mission to serve the residents of the island, the vast majority of whom are Hispanic. The oldest of these is the University of Puerto Rico, which was created in 1903. In the contiguous United States, Boricua College (1968) in New York and the National Hispanic University (1981) in California are the only institutions created with the explicit mission to serve Latino students.
Historically, U.S. tribal nations (American Indians, Native Alaskans, or Native Americans) have supported the idea of tribal higher education institutions through their self-determination efforts; individual tribes made significant efforts for the past 100 years to establish such educational entities. In 1978, the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Assistance Act was established, and the ongoing quest for full federal funding began.19 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) were created in response to the unique higher education needs of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and generally serve geographically isolated reservation populations that have no other means of accessing education beyond the high school level. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) noted that “TCUs have become increasingly important to educational opportunity for Native American students and are unique institutions that combine personal attention with cultural relevance to encourage American Indians/Alaska Natives—especially those living on reservations—to overcome the barriers they face to higher education.”20
16M. Christopher Brown II and Ronyelle Bertrand Ricard, The honorable past and uncertain future of the nation’s HBCUs, National Education Association Higher Education Journal, Fall 2007, pp. 117-130, http://www.nea.org/assets/img/PubThoughtAndAction/TAA_07_12.pdf.
17Education Encyclopedia, “Hispanic-Serving Colleges and Universities–The History of HSIs, HSIs and Latino Educational Attainment, Conclusion,” http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2045/Hispanic-Serving-CollegesUniversities.html, accessed May 25, 2014.
19American Indian Higher Education Consortium, “History of American Indian Higher Education,” February 27, 2000, http://aihec.org/about/documents/AIHECHistorical%20Overview.pdf.
A report by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) noted that “TCUs are similar to other two-year educational institutions in the United States in that they provide access for local students who might not otherwise receive a postsecondary education. Most tribal college students are first-generation students, and their average age, 31.5, is well above the average age of traditional college students. About two-thirds (67 percent) are women … and in 2002, more than half were single parents …. Overall, 41 percent attend on a part-time basis, although this varies from 84 percent on the Chief Dull Knife campus to 15 percent at the three federally chartered colleges.” 21
The committee’s discussions with administrators, faculty, and students at selected HBCUs/MIs, detailed in Chapter 4, overwhelmingly highlighted the positive, sustained impact that ARL limited funding for research to HBCUs/MIs has had in providing inspiring opportunities for URMs, supporting the scientific infrastructure, reshaping STEM curricula, recruiting research faculty, and using the institutions’ relationships with ARL to leverage incipient yet critically important relationships with industry and foundations.
Among the HBCUs/MIs with whom the committee engaged in discussion, there are institutions that have moved into the class of research universities. These institutions are now living under a sustained tradition of high-level research and high levels of extramural research funding; faculty that include a mix of national and international individuals who clearly understand, value, and support the mission of HBCUs/MIs; research portfolios that systematically blend graduate and undergraduate participation and are capable of easily accommodating a larger number of students, particularly minority students, if funding were available; recruitment models that take advantage of regional cultures and traditions; partnership with national laboratories and elite institutions; and partnership models that take advantage of the history and commitment of the regional political leadership. These institutions have described success in producing successful STEM undergraduates, enriching top graduate schools programs across the nation. Institutions that are not yet the owners of sustained research programs but that possess a growing core of committed STEM researchers benefited immensely from infrastructure ARL grants and collaborative agreements that maintained or increased their STEM capacity. The limited funding from ARL and other sources has been applied by these institutions to expand their STEM research capabilities by supporting researchers and students. Several institutions with whom the committee held discussions have served the URM communities for decades, have created a culture that attracts top students from underrepresented groups, and have recruited enough outstanding faculty to position them just below the tipping point that moves them into the class of entrepreneurial research institutions. These institutions, now owners of significant extramural funding, have the potential to develop synergistic interactions that transforms them, if the nation invests in them, into the category of research universities.
The role of ARL funding is critical at HBCU/MIs because it is tied in to the importance of building dynamic STEM curricula, and attracting URMs to STEM disciplines in ways that encourage them to enter and complete advanced degrees is fundamentally important. A recent study22 found that “the effects for URM students were even stronger than for the general population of students. URM students in structured undergraduate research programs were 15 percentage points more likely to enroll in STEM graduate/professional programs. Conducting research with faculty predicted a 14-point increase in URM students’ probability of enrolling in STEM graduate/professional programs, and URM students who
21NAE, “Engineering Studies at Tribal Colleges and Universities—Letter Report from the Steering Committee for Engineering Studies at the Tribal Colleges,” The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006.
22S. Hurtado, M. Kevin Eagan, Tanya Figueroa, and Bryce E. Hughes, “Reversing Underrepresentation: The Impact of Undergraduate Research Programs on Enrollment in STEM Graduate Programs,” presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, Pa., 2014.
had any research experience as undergraduates enjoyed a 17-point advantage in their probability to enroll in STEM graduate/professional programs compared to their URM peers who did not have an undergraduate research experience.” In the mathematical sciences, the impact of research experiences for undergraduates on encouraging them to pursue advanced degrees in the mathematical sciences or related fields has been extraordinary, particularly when these efforts are carried out in environments where these students are not isolated or underrepresented.23, 24
Supporting access to and collaborative training in STEM at the graduate and undergraduate levels is central to a national policy aimed at diversifying and increasing the STEM workforce, an area of importance to ARL. An example is provided by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, established in 1991 by the National Science Foundation to develop strategies to increase the quality and quantity of minority students who successfully complete baccalaureate STEM degrees and who continue on to graduate studies in these fields. The LSAMP Program began with grants to six multi-institution alliances. Today, 34 alliances with more than 450 participating institutions have produced thousands of STEM bachelor’s degrees. Overall, the LSAMP program has played a key role in increasing the yearly STEM baccalaureate graduation rate of URM students; since LSAMP’s inception, the alliance members within the program have produced more than 407,000 URM STEM bachelor’s degree recipients.25 Working within student success programs already in place at these institutions, the LSAMP also provides direct financial assistance to many of its participants. Distinguishing it from traditional scholarship programs, LSAMP takes a multidisciplinary approach to student development and retention, creating partnerships among colleges, universities, national research laboratories, business and industry, and other federal agencies in order to accomplish its goals. Hands-on research experiences and mentoring to build student interest in STEM are among the other important ways in which LSAMP helps.26
Extending the reach of LSAMP into the first two years of the Ph.D., a program begun in 2003, is called the bridge to the doctorate (BD). Through the BD program students are supported for 2 years, allowing them to engage with graduate students in master’s and doctoral degree programs through monthly meetings and other activities that foster a sense of community among participants that contributes to retention. The program has supported over 2,000 BD students.
HBCUs/MIs have generally received relatively little public funding throughout their history, and their students have largely been from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Despite these deficits, however, HBCUs/MIs have persevered to fulfill their mission of educating students, and those with research missions have continually sought support to develop scientific and technological research that would propel them into the mainstream of the nation’s research universities. Their participation over the past decade in the ARL grants program has been a vital stimulus for the research and development work of a few prominent engineers and scientists at HBCUs/MIs, offering them advancement and providing their institutions the prospect that over time, if the support is sustained and enhanced, they will join the ranks of the nation’s prominent research universities that make important scientific and technological discoveries and allow our nation to lead the world militarily and otherwise.
23C. Castillo-Chavez and C.W. Castillo-Garsow, Increasing minority representation in the mathematical sciences: Good models but no will to scale up their impact, pp. 135-145 in Doctoral Educations and the Faculty of the Future (R.G. Ehrenberg and C.V. Kuh, eds.), Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., 2009.
24C. Castillo-Chavez and C.W. Castillo-Garsow, A preliminary theoretical analysis of an REU’s community model, Problems, Resources and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies 23(9):860-880, 2013.
26B.C. Clewell, C.C. de Cohen, L. Tsui, L. Forcier, E. Gao, N. Yung, N. Deterding, and C. West, Final Report on the Evaluation of the National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., 2006.