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Dartmouth Launches $100M STEM Diversity Initiative

Fueled by alumni donations, the private research university in New Hampshire has unveiled a "STEM-X" program of scholarships, research opportunities and curriculum development to boost diversity in STEM fields.

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(TNS) — Dartmouth College has launched a $100 million program designed to boost diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon announced the creation of the "STEM-X" program at a forum for alumni, tech leaders and entrepreneurs in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Hanlon said the program aims to increase participation and success in STEM fields by members of "underrepresented" groups and prepare the next generation of scientists to tackle society's greatest challenges.

"We are acting on two contrary truths: American innovation benefits greatly when diverse perspectives are applied to a problem, and yet the pipeline of advanced-degree recipients in STEM from underrepresented groups falls far short of representation levels in our society," Hanlon said.

The new program was jumpstarted with a $25 million gift from Dartmouth alumnus James Coulter and his wife, Penny Coulter, with matching gifts from other alumni, which bring the total raised to $60 million, Dartmouth officials said in a statement announcing the program.

The college plans to raise an additional $40 million to fully endow the STEM-X program.

Speaking at the San Francisco gathering, Coulter, who is the founding partner of the global asset management firm TPG, said the stakes for society are high.

"To meet the challenges of tomorrow, we need all the talent we can muster and teach," said Coulter, who is vice chair emeritus of Dartmouth's board of trustees. "Dartmouth can do its part by embracing diversity as we recruit and educate future STEM leaders."

The Coulters' gift will bring together six undergraduate programs across the arts and sciences, engineering and the medical school under a new executive director for undergraduate STEM diversity, according to the statement.

The new director will work with other Dartmouth leaders to advance STEM educational opportunities and create an alumni-student network for mentorships and networking support.

The funding also will create the Coulter Scholars Program, a four-year enrichment program to "support students academically, personally and professionally," the announcement said.

STEM-X will provide:

  • $30 million for undergraduate research opportunities, including a summer research institute and internships.

  • $30 million for need-based scholarships.

  • $25 million for curriculum development, faculty recruitment and development, early career faculty fellowships and intensive research programs.

  • $15 million for student programming and workshops, an annual conference for leaders in the field, students and alumni, and for visiting scholars and practitioners.

College officials said Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans, as well as women and first-generation students, are underrepresented in STEM fields today, and that has implications for the private sector, public policy and academia.

"High school students who are serious about STEM should know universities like Dartmouth are deeply committed to creating pathways that will ensure their success," said Alexis Abramson, dean of Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering.

Dartmouth has had success in attracting women to STEM fields. Women now represent more than 30 percent of those graduating with computer science degrees, and 40 percent of those graduating with engineering degrees, Dartmouth officials said.

Dartmouth STEM-X is part of the institution's recently announced "Toward Equity" initiative, a three-year diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan for both academic and administrative areas, the release said.

"Underrepresentation in STEM is a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution," said Hanlon, the college president. "Enhancing and expanding our existing strengths through STEM-X will allow Dartmouth to be the leader in creating the next generation of scientific leaders that truly represent our world."

©2022 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.