In an effort to address a persistent shortage of minority males in STEM fields, the Diverse Pathways to STEM Degree Completion: Connecting Minority Males to Student Success report explores partnerships between four public universities and nearby community colleges and reveals insights gleaned from the collaborations and how those lessons can be applied to similar partnerships elsewhere. The four university-community college partnerships examined in the report were formed under the aegis of APLU’s Minority Male [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] Initiative (MMSI) and financially supported by the Kresge foundation.
Just 10 percent of men earning STEM degrees or certificates are Hispanic and less than 9 percent are African-American, according to figures from the National Center for Education Statistics. To strengthen the pipeline from community colleges to four-year universities, APLU’s MMSI helped institutions implement innovative practices to increase degree completion among minority males. Importantly, the MMSI report revealed that enhancing minority male success in STEM requires not just increasing support for current minority male students pursuing STEM degrees, but also improving recruiting practices to attract more underrepresented students into such fields.
The report identifies several essential elements of programs that improve minority males’ success in STEM fields:
- Identify under-represented male transfer students and guide them through four-year STEM degrees;
- Include a visible commitment by senior-level leaders, often from presidents or chancellors;
- Recognize that student success is highly dependent on being part of larger supportive community that encourages students to persist with their education and help guide them to successful careers after graduation; and
- Make a financial commitment to students – whether though scholarships, research stipends, or conference travel stipends.
“Boosting the number of minority males in STEM fields is critically important not just for students and their institutions, but for our nation as a whole,” said Jared Avery, Associate Director of APLU’s Office of Access and Success. “The Diverse Pathways report demonstrates that achieving increased minority male student success requires a comprehensive approach. It starts with attracting students from underrepresented backgrounds to STEM fields, includes easing their pathway to a four-year degree, and requires building strong relationships between students, faculty mentors, and university administrators along the way.”
The MMSI partnerships were selected through a competitive process. The four partnerships are: Alabama A&M and Lawson State Community College; California State University, Fresno and State Center Community College District; the University of Illinois at Chicago and the City Colleges of Chicago; and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the Minneapolis Community and Technical College.