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UMass Amherst Gets $2.5M Grant to Diversify STEM

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will create an interdisciplinary team to conduct equity-based reviews of its policies and procedures, and devise plans to counter racial disparities in STEM programs.

UMass Amherst statue.jpg
The Minuteman statue and Old Chapel at the University of UMass Amherst, May 10, 2018.
Greg Saulmon | Saulmon / The Republican fi
(TNS) — A new $2.5 million grant given to the University of Massachusetts Amherst will help eliminate racial barriers in STEM education, ultimately creating more pathways for employment in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The grant, announced today, comes from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Driving Change initiative.

The university plans to counter racial disparities by providing essential STEM experiences to students, while also addressing any protocols or policies at UMass that might hinder a student on their way to a STEM-related career.

Work built off the grant will be directed by Elizabeth Connor, associate dean for undergraduate education at the university’s College of Natural Sciences and an associate professor of biology.

The Howard Hughes institute’s Driving Change program encourages universities to self-study and then change appropriately.

“Institutional change is the key phrase, and it begins with a hard look in the mirror,” Connor said in a statement.

An interdisciplinary team will guide the program at the university, with representation from the natural sciences, engineering, information technology and health, analytics and assessment, and administration.

The team will conduct equity-based reviews of UMass policies and procedures, including the academic discipline process, holds on registration and enrollment, which historically have had an outsized negative effect on BIPOC students.

The project will include scientific research, 25 paid research fellowships, and housing to first generation and historically marginalized students.

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