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Jan. 19, 2006

Four universities announce program to increase minorities in science, math

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Four of the state's flagship universities will join together Jan. 23 at the University of Michigan Detroit Center to announce their new partnership in the Michigan -Louis StokesAlliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, a federal initiative designed to attract and retain under-represented minorities to science, technology, engineering and math.

The five-year, $5 million program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a 100 percent total match from the four alliance partners: University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. The alliance formed to help meet state and national needs for a trained STEM workforce.

The MI-LSAMP kickoffevent will be held 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the U-M Detroit Center, 3363 Woodward Ave. (Orchestra Place), Detroit. U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, WMU President Judith I. Bailey, and other leadership from alliance partners and NSF, will speak from 11:15-11:45 a.m., followed by an hors d'oeuvres reception and an exhibit of student projects. The event is open to the public but RSVP is requested.

The four partner schools hope to increase the number of under-represented minorities earning baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas by 50 percent in five years, and by 100 percent in 10 years. The alliance goals dovetail with Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to double the number of Michigan residents who earn college degrees over the next decade.

In a December 2004 report, Lt. Gov. John Cherry's Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth stated that Michigan trails in the number of adults with college degrees. In leading states, 40 percent of residents have at least an associate's degree and 33 percent have at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 29 and 22 percent in Michigan, respectively. About 8 percent of Michigan residents have a master's degree or higher, compared to 14 percent nationally.

"Too few people study and work in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Our country and our state are in desperate need of these skills," said Coleman, who served as chair of the Cherry Commission's Economic Benefits Work Group, and is principal investigator on MI-LSAMP. " We must find students with interest and talent in these fields, encourage them, and make sure there is a pathway for them to follow. We have to remove the barriers that exist for women and minorities, because we cannot afford to waste their potential. The alliance partnership, with the assistance of the National Science Foundation, will apply the assets of these four leading institutions to nurture this talent. "

For underrepresented minorities, the numbers are even lower than those cited by the Cherry Commission. To reverse that trend, the alliance universities will establish a student ambassadors program; collaborate with other STEM groups such as the American Chemical Society; make it easier to earn dual degrees in STEM areas; develop pre-first year summer transition programs; involve more undergraduate students in research projects; and increase participation in MI-LSAMP internships and residential learning programs.

"Science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees are the credentials that will ensure promising futures for our young people and prosperity for our state," said WMU President Judith I. Bailey. "I'm absolutely delighted that Michigan's four flagship universities will be working together to break down barriers, increase academic support and ensure every student has a chance to be part of the prosperous 21st-century Michigan we're building together."

"Many students from minority communities have interests in jobs that depend on areas such as mathematics, science and engineering," said WSU President Irvin D. Reid. "I know that they can benefit immensely from our support in their successful pursuit of these areas of study which can lead to a wide range of careers. Along with our already established programs such as Math Corps, I am confident that we can increase the diversity and numbers of Michiganians from all communities going into these fields."

The alliance is in the process of hiring a program director, who will be housed at U-M. The director reports to a steering committee led by U-M professor Levi Thompson and comprised of alliance members, who in turn report to a governing board of the four university presidents. Each university will have satellite MI-LSAMP offices.

"MSU looks forward to participating in this initiative that will involve the partnering of four major universities in an effort to further ensure that a broad segment of Michigan's youth are positioned for technical leadership in our future economy," said Satish Udpa, acting dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan State University.

The public is welcome to attend the MI-LSAMP kickoff event, but RSVP is requested at

Reporters are also welcome to attend but must register with Laura Bailey. See contact information above. For more information, visit:


Laura Bailey, U-M, (734) 647-7087 or (734) 647-1848

Laura Seeley, MSU, (517) 432-1303

Cheryl Roland, WMU, (616) 387-8400

Arthur Bridgeforth Jr., WSU, (313) 577-2150