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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 12, 2007

UI Graduate College awarded $880,000 grant for disadvantaged undergraduates

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program has awarded the University of Iowa Graduate College a four-year grant totaling $880,000 to support disadvantaged undergraduates with strong academic credentials.

Funded students will receive research training with close mentorship and will participate in scholarly activities to prepare them for doctoral studies following completion of their undergraduate degrees.

The UI McNair program will provide opportunities for current UI undergraduates during the academic year, as well as for undergraduates who visit the UI for summer programs from colleges with fewer research opportunities. UI McNair scholars will join students in two other prominent undergraduate diversity initiatives under the Graduate College umbrella: the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Summer Research Opportunities Program (CIC/SROP), and the Iowa Biosciences Advantage.

"The McNair Program provides wonderful opportunities to many students who most need them," said UI President Sally Mason. "Two of my highest priorities as president are providing a high quality, accessible education to all those who are ready to succeed, and enhancing the diversity of our campus community. I often say that we need to ask ourselves every day what we are doing to improve diversity, and we should also ask ourselves every day what we are doing to make sure we are supporting our students who are committed to their education. The McNair Program shows we are doing both, and I am delighted to offer new opportunities to some remarkable students."

The Graduate College anticipates funding 27 students per year with McNair scholarships. Talented students will be recruited and encouraged to apply online, and appointed to the program through a competitive selection process.

"The Graduate College has long demonstrated a commitment to diversity through its programs and campuswide partnerships," said John Keller, associate provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate College. "The McNair program is an important addition to these efforts."

"McNair Programs are known for having a strong tradition of leadership and academic achievement, and I am pleased that the University of Iowa will be a part of that success," said Marcella David, special assistant to the president for equal opportunity and diversity and associate provost for diversity.

The Graduate College has partnered for more than 20 years with peer institutions to support efforts such as the award-winning CIC/SROP and the Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate for students underrepresented in graduate education. The Graduate College also financially supports more than 100 graduate students through its premier diversity program, the Dean's Graduate Fellowship. About 25 new fellowships are awarded each year to the UI's most outstanding new minority graduate students.

"These positive activities and support services exemplify how the Graduate College and the University of Iowa are rising to the challenge to provide a socially and academically enriched environment to nurture the growth and success of our underrepresented scholars," said Minnetta Gardinier, associate dean for graduate recruitment and professional development, who will coordinate the UI McNair Program's training and scholarly activities.

The UI joins the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University as institutions in Iowa with McNair Program grants, providing new avenues for collaborative efforts to enrich statewide diversity in graduate education.

The McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is administered through the U.S. Department of Education. Ronald E. McNair was an accomplished African-American scholar who earned a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and went on to become a NASA astronaut. He was killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986. For more information on McNair and the program, visit: and

For more information about the Graduate College's diversity efforts, visit:


--Dean's Fellowship at's.asp

--Iowa Bioscience Advantage at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Minnetta Gardinier, UI Graduate College, 319-353-2147,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,