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Release: Sept. 20, 2000

UI shares in Presidential Award given to minority mentoring program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa recently shared in the receipt of a Presidential Award given to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) for the organization's efforts in mentoring minority undergraduate students in science, mathematics and engineering. The program's goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who pursue graduate and professional training after their undergraduate college degree.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced on Sept. 7 that SROP had won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. President Clinton established the award in 1996 to recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations that inspire and mentor young people to succeed in fields of science, math, and engineering. In making the award, the Office of Science and Technology Policy noted that awardees serve as examples to their colleagues and are leaders in the national effort to train the next century of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Les Sims, UI interim vice provost and chair of the CIC Graduate Deans' Council, said that SROP is an integral part of the university's graduate programs and added that the UI Graduate College recently received the 1999-2000 Iowa Catalyst Award for contributions to diversity.

"The Graduate College is extremely pleased to have been recognized both by the Presidential Award to the CIC SROP program and by the University of Iowa Catalyst Award. Both awards recognize our efforts over many years to provide access and opportunity to highly deserving and talented students from diverse backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. Although the Presidential Award recognizes efforts in areas of science where the greatest underrepresentation of minority students occurs, the Catalyst Award recognizes our broader efforts across the whole spectrum of graduate programs at the university," he said.

The CIC, consisting of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago, initiated SROP in 1986 to encourage talented undergraduate students to pursue graduate study and academic careers. SROP includes research internships, campus-based workshops, and a CIC-wide summer research conference. Students are recruited nationally as well as from CIC institutions, and work one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a research project of mutual interest for a period of 8 to 10 weeks on a CIC campus. Each host campus offers weekly educational enrichment activities designed to broaden students' views of graduate education and research, to strengthen their technical skills, to inform them about graduate admission procedures and financial aid opportunities, and to foster the development of a community of scholars.

The two and one-half day SROP research conference, hosted by a different CIC campus each year, brings together student participants from all 15 host institutions. The conference features roundtable progress reports by all current students, presentations by SROP alumni and faculty, professional development workshops, and opportunities to meet with graduate school representatives to discuss individual programs. Students meet others interested in academic careers in their fields of interest and reinforce one another's commitment to pursue advanced study.

The retention, graduation, and post-baccalaureate rates of SROP students are substantially higher than those of the general student population. More than two-thirds of SROP alumni have gone on to graduate and professional schools, a rate more than twice the national average for all baccalaureates in the United States. To date, 6,763 undergraduate students have participated, of which 58 percent have been women and 87 percent underrepresented minority students. Of those who have earned their bachelor's degrees, 70 percent have or are still pursuing advanced study. Since the SROP began in 1986, the number of underrepresented minority students earning bachelor's degrees from CIC institutions has increased by half while the number of Ph.D. degrees increased by 54 percent. Some 80 students have already become professors at universities across the country.

The member institutions of the CIC are: the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses of Illinois, the Indianapolis campus of Indiana and Purdue, and the Milwaukee campus of Wisconsin all participate in this program for a total of fifteen host campuses. For more information about the CIC, consult their web site at http://www.cic.uiuc.edu.