Virginia Tech Offers Scholarships
In Attempt to Diversify Student Body
Virginia’s largest university, Virginia Tech, will offer 27 undergraduate scholarships and three graduate fellowships to attract more minority students beginning this fall.
“This is a concrete step with dollars attached, something that will be sustained and will grow,” says Dr. Benjamin Dixon, vice president for multicultural affairs. “It is one step, albeit an important one, in increasing access to Virginia Tech for under-represented populations.”
The undergraduate awards each will be worth $3,000 a year, and will be renewable. Virginia residents receiving graduate fellowships will get $5,100 per year and out-of-state graduate students will receive $7,500.
Students will have to keep a minimum grade point average of 2.5 to renew the grants, which will be awarded based on financial need and other factors, including academic achievement and involvement in activities promoting diversity.
Most of the funding for the scholarships will come from licensing fees paid by manufacturers of products using trademarked Virginia Tech names. Private donations will also feed into the endowment-type fund that will support the scholarships. University officials said they expect that fund to approach $3 million by 2008.
The Blacksburg school has yet to define “under-represented” as it will pertain to the scholarships, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker says. Officials are distinguishing between the terms “minority” and “under-represented,” saying that while under-represented students can be minorities, they can also be women applying for engineering programs, or applicants from parts of the state that don’t supply many students.
A federal appeals court ruled in 1994 that the University of Maryland could not offer a scholarship limited to Black students. Hincker says the ruling’s effect on the Tech scholarship program is debatable, because the scholarship is open to members of all under-represented populations.
There will be an emphasis on Black students when it comes time to award the scholarships, but the grants will not be limited to those applicants, says Dr. David Ford, vice provost for academic affairs.
Minority students made up 12.7 percent of last fall’s undergraduate population, compared with more than 28 percent at the University of Virginia. Of Tech’s 21,428 students, only 929 — or 4.3 percent — were Black. That is up about 80 students from 1999 but still well below UVA., where 10 percent of the
student body is Black.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com