With new grant, New Paltz leading SUNY effort to increase participation in STEM

SUNY New Paltz is a partner institution for a $4 million, five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant designed to increase the share of underrepresented minority students earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at SUNY colleges and universities.

The new NSF grant supports the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, a coalition of 14 SUNY institutions of which SUNY New Paltz is alliance leader for the Mid-Hudson region.

Through this grant, New Paltz will receive more than $320,000 to help prepare students from underrepresented populations for success in STEM programs, by providing new experiential learning activities that lead to socialization into science and broadening student participation in research.

The grant also supports the College’s AC2 (AMP & CSTEP Community) program, which since 1987 has provided support and enrichment for underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in STEM disciplines. AC2 currently serves more than 80 New Paltz students.

“For the past eight years, the goal of increasing the number of college and university students earning degrees in STEM fields has been a national priority,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lorin Basden Arnold. “One challenge to that goal has been the belief that science is too hard for some students, and unfortunately, this belief has disproportionally impacted minority students. Any effort we can engage in to invite students from diverse backgrounds to become interested in STEM fields, and pursue them successfully, is valuable.”

SUNY’s LSAMP program, created in 1996, has been instrumental in creating STEM education opportunities for students from demographics that have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields and professions.

In its two decades of existence, SUNY LSAMP has supported an 11-fold increase in STEM enrollment for minority students, and helped increase the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM fields by nearly 300 percent.

The effort has led to engagement among faculty, staff, administrators and heads of academic departments to create new infrastructures on campuses to enhance UREP students’ participation and pursuit of STEM higher education.

The National Science Foundation has supported the SUNY LSAMP program since its inception. The proposal for this most recent award was developed through a collaboration between New Paltz, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook. Physics & Astronomy Department Chair Stacie Nunes represented the College on the grant-writing team.

More information about Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz is available online.