America’s Underutilized Resource for
Strengthening the STEM Workforce
Lorelle L. Espinosa, Kent McGuire, and Leigh Miles Jackson, Editors
Committee on Closing the Equity Gap: Securing Our STEM Education and Workforce Readiness Infrastructure in the Nation’s Minority Serving Institutions
Board on Higher Education and Workforce Policy and Global Affairs
A Consensus Study Report of
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This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and the ECMC Foundation (unnumbered award), the Helmsley Charitable Trust (Award # 2016PG-EDU026), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Award # G-2016-7134), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (unnumbered award), and the Wallace Foundation (unnumbered award). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-48441-1
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-48441-3
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25257
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25257.
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COMMITTEE ON CLOSING THE EQUITY GAP: SECURING OUR STEM EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE READINESS INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE NATION’S MINORITY SERVING INSTITUTIONS
LORELLE L. ESPINOSA (Co-Chair), Vice President for Research, American Council on Education
KENT MCGUIRE (Co-Chair), Program Director of Education, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
JIM BERTIN, Math Instructor, Chief Dull Knife College
ANTHONY CARPI, Dean of Research, Professor, Environmental Toxicology John Jay College, CUNY
APRILLE J. ERICSSON, New Business Lead, Instrument Systems and Technology Division and Aerospace Engineer, Technologist, Project and Program Manager, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center
LAMONT HAMES, President and CEO, LMH Strategies, Inc.
WESLEY L. HARRIS, Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EVE HIGGINBOTHAM, Vice Dean, Office of Inclusion and Diversity, Penn Medicine and Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics and Professor of Ophthalmology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
SPERO M. MANSON, Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry, Director, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Denver and The Colorado Trust Chair in American Indian Health, Colorado School of Public Health, Anschutz Medical Center
JAMES T. MINOR, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Strategist for Academic Success and Inclusive Excellence, California State University
LEO MORALES, Professor and Chief Diversity Officer, School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor, Health Services, School of Public Health, University of Washington
ANNE-MARIE NÚÑEZ, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies, The Ohio State University
CLIFTON POODRY, Senior Science Education Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
WILLIAM SPRIGGS, Chief Economist, American Federation of Labor—Congress of Industrial Organizations, Professor, Department of Economics Howard University
VICTOR TAM, Dean, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Santa Rosa Junior College
CRISTINA VILLALOBOS, Myles and Sylvia Aaronson Professor, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
DOROTHY C. YANCY, President Emerita of Johnson C. Smith University and Shaw University
LANCE SHIPMAN YOUNG, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, Morehouse College
LEIGH MILES JACKSON, Study Director
BARBARA NATALIZIO, Program Officer (September 2017–June 2018)
IRENE NGUN, Research Associate (until June 2017)
AUSTEN APPLEGATE, Senior Program Assistant
ADRIANA COUREMBIS, Financial Officer
THOMAS RUDIN, Board Director, Board on Higher Education and Workforce
ANDRÉS CASTRO SAMAYOA, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
MARYBETH GASMAN, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Minority Serving Institutions
DESHAWN PRESTON, Morehouse School of Medicine
MATTHEW SOLDNER, Commissioner, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
MORGAN TAYLOR, Senior Policy Research Analyst, American Council on Education
PAULA WHITACRE, Full Circle Communications
BOARD ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE
RICHARD K. MILLER (Chair) (NAE), President, Olin College of Engineering
LAWRENCE D. BOBO (NAS), W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Sociology, Harvard University
ANGELA BYARS-WINSTON, Professor of Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
JAIME CURTIS-FISK, Scientist and STEM Education Program Leader, The Dow Chemical Company
APRILLE J. ERICSSON, Capture-Mission Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
RICHARD FREEMAN, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, Harvard University
PAUL J. LEBLANC, President, Southern New Hampshire University
SALLY F. MASON, President Emerita, University of Iowa
FRANCISCO RODGRIGUEZ, Chancellor, Los Angeles Community College District
SUBHASH SINGHAL (NAE), Batelle Fellow Emeritus, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
KUMBLE R. SUBBASWAMY, Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
SHELLEY WESTMAN, Principal/Partner, Ernst & Young, LLP
MARY WOOLLEY (NAM), President and CEO, Research! America
AUSTEN APPLEGATE, Senior Program Assistant
ASHLEY BEAR, Program Officer
LIDA BENINSON, Program Officer
ALLISON BERGER, Senior Program Assistant
JAIME COLMAN, Senior Program Assistant (Until December 2017)
MARIA LUND DAHLBERG, Program Officer
YASMEEN HUSSAIN, Associate Program Officer (Until July 2017)
LEIGH JACKSON, Senior Program Officer
FREDERIC LESTINA, Senior Program Assistant (Until October 2018)
BARBARA NATALIZIO, Program Officer (Until June 2018)
IRENE NGUN, Research Associate
LAYNE SCHERER, Program Officer
THOMAS RUDIN, Director
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Research suggests that the cultural diversity of a nation’s workforce is a key factor in its ability to innovate and compete in a global economy. This report on the role of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in creating a diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is motivated by the realization that the United States is unlikely to maintain its competitive advantage in STEM without the contributions that these institutions are uniquely positioned to make. As such, the purpose of this committee’s work was to better understand contributing factors to the success and challenges that MSIs face in recruiting, retaining, and graduating students of color who are prepared to enter the STEM workforce. We further sought to identify the actions that those in the public and private sectors need to take to ensure the success and sustainability of the more than 700 MSIs that exist today, with the understanding that many more will emerge in the coming decades given our country’s demographic changes.
More specifically, our charge was three-fold, to (1) identify model programs with demonstrated evidence of success; (2) examine the challenges MSIs face in preparing scientists, engineers, and other STEM professionals; and (3) surface the institutional components for scaling and sustaining effective policies and practices in STEM education. In response, we analyzed and synthesized the available evidence and highlight in the report effective and promising practices on how MSIs are bolstering success (e.g., through enrollment, persistence, retention, degree attainment, and employment) for students seeking STEM degrees and credentials.
Through visits to a sample of MSIs, the committee explored with administrators, faculty, and students, the strategies they pursue in preparing STEM professionals. The committee examined the prevailing evidence on federal, state, and
institutional policies that support such strategies, and collected data on institutional profiles of select MSI sectors and their contributions to their communities. Based on this evidence, the committee offers a series of findings, conclusions, and recommendations that aim to support the expansion of effective practices, and the study of promising ones, such that both can be scaled and thus reach more institutions and their students.
In the body of this report are actions we think will focus, and increase, financial and other investments in MSIs in ways that produce strong returns, thus benefiting students, MSIs, their communities, the national workforce, and the overall economy. It is our hope that these recommendations will be taken on their merits and used as guideposts in efforts to improve STEM education and workforce pathways for MSI students, whatever the stakeholder vantage point—institutional leader, faculty member, business and industry partner, public official, philanthropic contributor, advocate, or student.
As with any study, there are limitations, and we had our share. Chief among them is the very limited, rigorous research available on MSIs generally, but especially knowledge that sheds light on how these institutions organize, deliver, and support learning opportunities for students of color in STEM. The committee reviewed all of what is available but acknowledged the fact that the strength of the evidence, especially regarding program effectiveness, varies widely. The breadth of MSI institution types and contexts is a strength of the MSI community, but proved a challenge given the committee’s charge. Available time and resources limited the committee’s ability to explore fully the rich diversity of institutional forms, missions, and socio-historical contexts that make up this set of institutions.
One of the ways we sought to overcome these limitations was to invite comment and testimony from a broad range of MSI constituencies, advocates, and beneficiaries, and to visit a diverse set of MSIs for on-the-ground observations and information gathering. We learned a great deal from the public forums, and these insights have found their way into various chapters of this report, including our recommendations; we thank all who engaged the committee for their contributions. The time we spent in the field, learning about the intentionality with which MSIs work to prepare and graduate STEM professionals, was singularly important to completing our charge. We cannot thank enough the leadership, faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the colleges and universities we visited. Committee members were warmly received and the visits well organized. We recognize how much time and effort is involved in preparing for curious visitors with many questions about what you do and how you do it. The context and perspective the institutions provided was nothing short of invaluable.
This has been a collective effort, and thanks go to the very hard work of our committee. It has been a joy and a great privilege to work with such a knowledgeable and committed group of individuals. You have contributed in immeasurable ways to this important effort, and we cannot thank you enough for your time and attention. We next appreciate greatly the support of the sponsors
of this study, which include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Helmsley Charitable Trust, Wallace Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This work would not have been possible without the broad philanthropic support we received, and we hope our recommendations will be useful as ways to advance interests in STEM education are considered.
Finally, we cannot say enough about the dedication and hard work of the National Academies leadership and committee staff. It is through a combination of delicate pressure and strong support that we have emerged with this report. We are all indebted to Board on Higher Education and Workforce Director Tom Rudin for taking on the important charge of examining the role of MSIs in preparing a diverse STEM workforce. To Senior Program Officer and Study Director, Leigh Miles Jackson, thank you for seeing us through the arduous and rigorous process through which all study committees go. We could not have done this without you. Additional thanks to Program Officer Barbara Natalizio and Senior Program Assistant Austen Applegate for their contributions.
In the end, we feel confident that this report adds to the much-needed conversation about how this country strengthens its STEM workforce and clarifies the central role of MSIs in meeting this challenge. The available data presented here make clear that this conversation is in need of more voices and subsequent action. It also illustrates the central role of MSIs in meeting our nation’s education and workforce goals. To restate the obvious, we will not meet these goals without them.
Drs. Lorelle L. Espinosa and Kent McGuire,
Co-Chairs, Committee on Closing the Equity Gap:
Securing Our STEM Education and Workforce Readiness Infrastructure in the Nation’s Minority Serving Institutions
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This report reflects contributions from a number of individuals and groups. The committee takes this opportunity to recognize those who so generously gave their time and expertise to inform its deliberations.
To begin, the committee would like to thank the sponsors of this study for their guidance and support. Support for the committee’s work was generously provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Helmsley Charitable Trust, Wallace Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The committee greatly benefited from the opportunity for discussion with individuals who attended and presented at the open session meetings (see Appendix B), as well as with the leadership, faculty, staff, students, and alumni at the nine MSIs it visited (see Appendix C). The committee is thankful for the many contributions of these individuals.
The committee could not have done its work without the support and guidance provided by the National Academies project staff: Leigh Miles Jackson, study director; Barbara Natalizio, program officer; and Austen Applegate, senior program assistant.
We appreciate Adriana Courembis for her financial assistance on this project, and gratefully acknowledge Tom Rudin of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce for the guidance he provided throughout this important study.
Many other staff within the National Academies provided support to this project in various ways. The committee would like to thank the executive office staff of Policy and Global Affairs, as well as Marilyn Baker, Karen Autrey, and Rita Johnson for the management of the report review and publication process. We would like to thank Jorge Mendoza-Torres and the National Academies
Research Center staff for their assistance in the committee’s research efforts, and the National Academies Press staff.
This committee is grateful to the research and writing consultants that generously contributed to this body of work. We thank the committee’s consultants Marybeth Gasman (University of Pennsylvania’s Center on Minority Serving Institutions) and Andrés Castro Samayoa (Boston College), Matthew Soldner (American Institutes of Research), and DeShawn Preston (Morehouse School of Medicine) for their invested time and support of this study. We thank Katherine Hale, Darius Singpurwalla, and Daniel Foley (National Science Foundation), Lance Selfa and colleagues (NORC at the University of Chicago), and Katherine Cardell (American Indian Education Consortium) for their generous assistance with data collection and analyses. We are particularly grateful to Morgan Taylor (American Council on Education) for her expertise, assistance, and support throughout the study process. And to the leadership, faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the colleges and universities we visited, we thank them for their gracious hospitably and for the context and perspective they provided.
Finally, the committee is indebted to Paula Whitacre (Full Circle Communications) for her valuable commissioned work, Jay Labov for his expertise and advice, and Heather Phillips for her editorial assistance in preparing this report.
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Arizona State University; Kevin Christian, American Association of Community Colleges; James Dalton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Timothy Fong, California State University, Sacramento; Noël Harmon, Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund; Tatiana Melguizo, University of Southern California; John Moder, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; Christine Nelson, University of Denver; Ivory Toldson, Howard University; Hannah Valantine, National Institutes of Health; Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Intersections SBD; and Darrell Warner, The Boeing Company.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Marigold Linton, University of Kansas and Alan Leshner, American Association for the Advancement of Science. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
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Boxes, Figures, and Tables
4-8 Percentage total of STEM bachelor’s degrees earned by Black students at HBCUs compared to non-HBCUs, Asian American students at AANAPISIs compared to non-AANAPISIs, and Hispanic students at HSIs compared to non-HSIs, 2016 data
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