When Dr. Ted Greenwood talks about boosting the number of it
under-rep presented minority doctoral holders in the sciences, there is
a no-nonsense resolute quality to his voice.
“Some [philanthropists] Put money in the Students’ hands directly.
We don’t do that,” he says. “We put the money in the hands of faculty,”
Greenwood is the program officer of a four-year-old program funded
by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It was designed with input from
science and engineering faculty around the country and awards roughly
$3 million in grants annually to individual faculty members or Clusters
of faculty Who have a proven track record for producing African
American and other under-represented doctoral graduates in mathematics,
science, and engineering.
The funds are explicitly earmarked for helping faculty increase
their yield exponentially over a three-year period. So, for example, a
faculty member or research team that is producing two doctoral students
from under-represented groups in the sciences each year would receive
money to increase that yield to four over the three-year period Faculty
already producing four would he expected to produce eight by the end of
the grant period. Program funds cannot he used to sustain pre-funding
To receive an award, applicants must submit a detailed plan for how
they intend to achieve the increased yield, such as recruitment
activities, retention programs, fellowship grants and so on. The plan
must then he approved by the foundation before any funds are disbursed
Throughout the grant period, recipients are required to keep abreast of
their progress and adjustments are made to the strategy if it is agreed
that such intervention is needed.
Faculty from Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology,
Auburn University, City College of New York, Cornell University, Rice
University, and the University of Maryland-College Park are among those
who have participated in the program,
Participating faculty have also come from an array of science and
engineering departments — including I Lid in botany, chemistry,
toxicology, materials engineering, and atmospheric sciences.
The foundation’s strategic decision to award funds directly to
faculty came after a thorough investigation into where how students of
color earn doctorates in the sciences. It was determined that even at
institutions where administrative support for increasing production of
minority doctoral students in math-based disciplines exist, the factor
that most appeared to effect outcomes was faculty commitment. Greenwood
and his investigators found that the degree of faculty commitment
typically explains why some departments are more Successful than others
on the same campus.
“We prefer to work at the smallest level we can,” Greenwood says.
“We are data driven en and we are interested in what they have been
And, according to Greenwood the foundation is conscientious about spreading the money Around.
“Not all the money goes to the Stanfords and MITS,” he says.
Sloan invests another 10 to 15 Percent of the $3 million on
undergraduate feeder programs. One program, for example, brings African
American and Puerto Rican Students from historically Black institutions
and the University of Puerto Rico to the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology for a summer.
In awarding faculty funding, Greenwood looks at a variety of
factors. Some of those factors include the number of under-represented
minority doctoral Students a department or faculty member has recruited
in a given en year, what the attrition rate is for these Students at
that institution, and the annual yield at graduation.
“After this review, we may conclude that two students will
graduate. So we’ll give funding for two students at $30,000 each for a
total of $60,000. Sometimes the recipients will say `Well, we can’t
support a Student on this.’ To which we say. `Look we’re giving you a
small bride, a financial inducement, to change the Mix of your
students,'” says Greenwood, who adds that Sloan is less interested in
increasing the overall number of science and engineering graduate
students than they are in changing the racial mix.
“It’s all a numbers game for us.” explains GreenWood. “Our goal is
to increase the numbers [of under-represented students] by 100 per
year. This [academic] year, we’ll make grants for the support of 100
And what happens if a grant recipient fails to achieve the goals they agree to with Sloan?
“We have canceled programs,” lie says, adding that the overall program results have been mixed.
“Some of Our recipients have done quite well, some even better than
expected.” Greenwood continues. “Some have failed. But we’re not
entertaining the possibility of getting Out of this any time soon.”
For more information about the Sloan Foundation program, contact:
Dr. Ted Greenwood, Program Officer, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 630
Fifth Ave., Suite 2550, New York, N.Y. 10111; (212) 649-1645; or send
e-mail to: .
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