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Utica College to use NSF grant to help underserved students pursue STEM careers

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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Laura Casamento, president of Utica College, addresses the media in this 2019 file photo. PHOTO CREDIT: UTICA COLLEGE

UTICA — Utica College says it will use grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help the school increase the number of students from “underrepresented minorities” earning bachelors’ degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. 

Utica College is part of the Central New York Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP). It includes a group of schools throughout upstate New York, including Ithaca College, SUNY Cortland, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and Herkimer College. 

The alliance of small schools has two primary goals. One is to expand “high-impact” practices enabling underrepresented minority students to get the “maximum benefits” of STEM education in a small-school environment. The alliance also wants to “strengthen transfer pathways” to the STEM degree for underrepresented-minority students who begin their studies at a community college.

The National Science Foundation’s LSAMP is designed to assist colleges and universities in “diversifying” the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce by increasing the number of STEM degrees to populations historically underrepresented in these disciplines.

Utica College’s portion of the award is $244,561 over five years, the school said. 

“This program is incredibly prestigious and highly competitive,” Laura Casamento, president of Utica College, said in a release. “We are pleased to be able to provide even greater assistance to under-represented minority students in computer and information sciences, biological sciences, mathematics and physical sciences, as well as those in interdisciplinary programs.”

In addition, the grant will help pay for faculty training and mentoring best practices in supporting students of color in the classroom, lab, departmental and institutional cultures, to “make them all more inclusive,” the college said.    

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