In a notable push to diversify the realms of STEM education, Portland State University (PSU) has been selected as one of ten institutions to participate in the Sloan Centers for Systemic Change initiative. The program, backed by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, recognized PSU for its potential to become a prime destination for Indigenous doctoral candidates, as reported by OPB.
Joseph Bull, the dean of Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU and a citizen of the Delaware Tribe of Indians has been instrumental in outlining the university's objectives. "Oregon needs more diversity in its STEM workforce to meet industry needs and find the best solutions to our most pressing problems," Bull told OPB. This initiative has set to boldly address the persistent underrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in higher education, particularly within STEM disciplines.
According to BNN Breaking, the $250,000 seed grant provided by the Sloan Foundation will be used over the next two years to recruit and retain 'Sloan Scholars,' focusing on scholarships for eligible Black, Indigenous, and Latiné doctoral students. PSU's targeted efforts to promote systemic change shine a light on the broader mission: creating equitable representation and supporting success across all student demographics.
Moreover, PSU's leadership is confident that the strategies forged through the use of this grant will serve as a blueprint for other institutions seeking to achieve similar goals. "I think this is the right time and the right place to do these things to make [PSU] a destination for Native STEM," Bull expressed, emphasizing the university's dedication to the cause in an interview obtained by Underscore News. Faculty members from different programs will come together in this collaborative effort, aiming to reevaluate and potentially expand upon existing practices to better assist underrepresented students.
After the initial seed grant phase, if deemed successful, institutions will have the opportunity to apply for a substantial four-year, $1.4 million implementation grant from the Sloan Foundation, part of their broader $30 million commitment to higher education. PSU's concerted strides towards inclusivity and excellence in STEM education signal a transformative period not only for the university but potentially for the academic landscape at large.