United Methodist historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), supported by The United Methodist Church’s Black College Fund, are working to recruit more women and minorities in the academic areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“Females make up only ten percent of the total population of engineers,” said Dr. Monique M. Johnson-Jones, Director of STEM at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. “Females either keep pace or surpass males when it comes to obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees; however, the numbers are not sustained when it comes to the STEM areas.”
Huston-Tillotson University, Bennett College, Paine College and Dillard University are just a few of the United Methodist HBCUs that are specifically working to boost interest in STEM fields.
Through the Saturday STEM Academy and the Austin Pre-Freshman Engineering Summer Program, Huston-Tillotson identifies middle and high school students who are interested in STEM and reinforces them in their pursuit of these academic areas.
“Research shows that it is vital to get students interested in the math and sciences at the elementary level,” said Dr. Johnson-Jones. “Once a student makes up his or her mind about math and science, it usually stays that way throughout their educational careers. It is up to math and science educators to reach out early to students and expose them to all of the opportunities available in the STEM areas.”
Igniting the passion for sciences at an early age is also among the work being done within the STEM department at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. As a part of the school’s Sisters-in Science (SIS) program, scholars from Bennett’s STEM program serve as mentors for female high school and middle school students who have STEM career goals. The group gathers for monthly meetings, labs and trips to conferences.
At Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, Dr. LaShawnda Lindsay-Dennis and Dr. Lawanda Cummings recently received a $343,000 National Science Foundation grant to research the underlying factors linked to the low participation of African-American women in STEM.
“Minority women are needed in STEM fields to bring their innovative perspectives to the global environmental, technological and engineering industries,” said Dr. Cummings. “Understanding how to promote their successful integration into these growing fields can revitalize and revolutionize current trends in STEM.”
Additionally, Dillard University in New Orleans has been ranked by the National Science Center for Engineering as the #50 producer of black STEM doctorates amongst all universities in the nation, #21 HBCU producer of black STEM doctorates and #2 in producing the most African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in physics, according to the American Institute of Physics.
For more information about United Methodist colleges and universities supported by The United Methodist Church’s Black College Fund, go to www.gbhem.org/bcf.
About the Black College Fund
The United Methodist Church’s Black College Fund supports the largest number of Black colleges and universities of any church body in the United States. The 11 Black colleges are located in the Southeastern and South Central Jurisdictions. The colleges are and have always been open to all.