Last week, Utah State University received a million-dollar grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to create the new Mentoring and Encouraging Student Academic Success program to better support Native American students transferring to USU Logan from the USU Blanding campus.
"The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Inclusive Excellence Program is intended to reduce the barriers to inclusion by students who might otherwise have challenges integrating into 4-year programs in STEM areas," said Al Savitzky, professor and department head in the department of biology at Utah State University and one of the leaders of this new program.
Savitzky says Native Americans are underrepresented in STEM and higher education nationwide.
"The latest statistics that we have from the National Science Foundation indicate that Native Americans represent only one percent of undergraduate students across the country and they represent less than half of one percent of graduate students in STEM disciplines."
The goal of this inclusivity program is to create a supportive and encouraging environment for Native American transfer students.
"Really the Hughes program in general is focused on improving institutional cultures and generating a more inclusive environment and so one of the first things we’re going to have is a cultural competency training program that ... will assist both faculty and others on the Logan campus in being more aware of and more sensitive to the cultural differences between the students from Blanding and students here in Logan," Savitzky said.
The program has additional support to promote academic success for these Native American students.
"We will be providing a full-time faculty level advocate for the students who will be able to track those students academic progress."
Savitzky echoes USU’s delight at this excellent opportunity to promote Native American representation in higher education.