Montana State University

MSU receives $880,000 McNair Grant

October 19, 2009 -- Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service

MSU has recently received a $880,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support a Ronald E. McNair post-baccalaureate program that will help MSU students such as Jason Baldes, an LRES undergraduate from Wyoming, earn doctorate degrees. The program supports graduate studies for students from underrepresented populations. Baldes, from the Wind River Reservation, studies the effects of CO2 on fish mortality. The technique is being tested as an alternative fish management approach for invasive fish species at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham. Photo shot in Bozeman, Mont. On October 15, 2009.    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Montana State University has won an $880,000 U.S. Department of Education Ronald E. McNair post-baccalaureate program grant to support graduate studies for MSU undergraduate students who are minorities, income eligible, and first generation college students.

Greg Young, MSU vice provost for undergraduate education and principal investigator for the grant, said the four-year program is targeted at students underrepresented in graduate schools. Specifically, those are students who are the first in their families to attend college, are from low-income families or are members of minority groups.

"Given the prominence of undergraduate research at MSU, this program will enable eligible students to succeed in a way that will likely surpass their initial expectations for their own education, careers and futures," Young said.

MSU's McNair program, which will begin this summer with a research experience, will work with 26 students annually. MSU received the McNair grant for four years at $220,000 annually to support the program.

Applicants must be interested in research and scholarly activities and want to go on to earn a Ph.D. In return, the student will receive financial and academic support and mentoring.

At MSU, many of the students who will fill the McNair requirements will be Native American or transfers from Montana tribal colleges, Young said.

Young pointed out that while there are similar programs to encourage high school students to attend college, this is the first in Montana to encourage bright college students in underrepresented populations to earn doctoral degrees. The program will support them as they earn undergraduate degrees, help them enroll in graduate programs and will track their progress as they complete an advanced degree.

Students accepted to the program will be eligible for aid, including a tuition waiver for summer research, an allowance and money for research supplies. Sophomores and juniors will be selected from any discipline, as long as they are able to incorporate research and scholarship into their undergraduate program.
"The goal is to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society," Young said.
The program, which is new to MSU and is the only one of its kind in the state of Montana, is named for Ronald E. McNair. McNair grew up in poverty and segregation to become a nationally recognized physicist and a NASA mission specialist astronaut. McNair died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986. Congress established the McNair Program in his honor.

For more information about the MSU McNair program, call 994-4371.

Greg Young (406) 994-6057,