Supporting Minority Students at Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon
"Mata de Platano" Field Station and Nature Reserva Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon
Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus (IAUPRBC) is a private, non-profit Hispanic Serving Institution. The IAUPRBC is the largest private institution of higher education in Bayamón, with an enrollment of more than 5,000 (92.4% undergraduate students). The IAUPRBC serves a broad spectrum of Hispanic students whose learning styles require a variety of experiences in and outside of the classroom. Many require tutoring in one or more basic skills. The student failure rate in gatekeeper courses stands at 57%, hindering advancement to upper level courses and increasing attrition among first and second year students. In response to these challenges, IAUPRBC have been developing activities geared to create the conditions for student-centered education, especially in traditional gatekeeper courses required in engineering, science, and technology programs. Faculty and infrastructure have been reinforced and undergraduate research has been promote as a key factor in STEM fields. IAUPRBC has been implementing distance learning courses and is committed to academic innovation. Currently, IAUPRBC houses an advanced technological infrastructure, with both Internet and Intranet capabilities, on a fiber optic backbone. There are over 600 workstations, with wireless access points strategically placed for users to connect to with their own portable computers. The Campus library has been transformed into the Information Access Center (IAC). A new database integrating all titles in the university system has been implemented and a virtual library can be accessed through the Internet and the university Intranet. Also, IAUPRBC has a Tutoring Center to help students on English, Spanish and Math skills and a "Internship, Exchange and Partial-Employment Office" to support students on their search for these activities to complete their education.
The institution offers a Bachelor degree in Environmental Sciences and a Master degree in Environmental Sciences and Ecology.
Keys to Success
- One of the few places with adequate infrastructure in the field to conduct research at the karst zone
- Close mentoring by faculty
- Through research students learn restoration and community ecology
Attracting New Students
Structured promotion and recruitment efforts have helped increase the number of those admitted to the Bayamón Campus. Strategies include visits to public and private schools throughout Puerto Rico, and the celebration of a Campus Open House. These activities have played an important role in increasing the applications for admissions. Recruitment strategies also focus on the promotion of online admissions (www.admisiones.inter.edu). Social network channels and mechanisms have also been strengthened. The Campus Facebook page traffic and usage has increased substantially, from 1,256 members in March 2011 to 2,051 members by June, 2011. Other recruitment strategies include placing pictures of Campus activities, documents, and videos, as well as messages and ads on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (bayamon.inter.edu).The academic departments with the largest number of new students in recent years are Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Business Administration, and the School of Engineering.
Supporting Our Majors
1) The Orientation Program with three full-time professional counselors provide orientation regarding study choices and career planning, among other areas. one counselor offers services in the evenings and Saturday.
2) Tutoring Services - One major challenge the Campus encounters is servicing first year students who arrive with some basic skills deficiencies in Math and EnglishThe Campus is aware of the importance of complementing classroom learning with tutoring services that cater to students' needs. The IAUPR_CC has aTutoring and Skills Development Center (TSDC), with emphasis on helping developing basic skills: oral and written skills in English and Spanish; and mathematical reasoning in Algebra, Pre-Calculus and Calculus I. Student tutors work an average of 10 hours per week. There are usually two tutors for each subject.
3) The Student Internship and Exchange Program's provides students with contacts in industries and facilitates partnerships with external companies, government agencies, and community-based organizations. Making internship experiences available to students provides them with the opportunity of a practical experience that enriches their learning process.
FINANCIAL: A range of scholarships, financial aid and special funding from institutional funds are available to assist Campus' students with their tuition and educational expenses. These funds are provided mostly from the US Federal Government, the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, private foundations and organizations, and IAUPR institutional funds. Currently ninety four percent (94%) of students cover their tuition expenses with the Pell Grant. The Bayamón Campus allocates institutional funds to help students with tuition and educational expenses. There is a variety of financial aid, including scholarships and loans, available to students.
Preparing Students for Careers
The Environmental Sciences program prepare students to work on the government, private or industry sector related to contamination and conservation & management of natural resources.
Besides the basic biological and chemistry courses, the programs provides knowledge on Environmental Law, and focused on laboratory skills.
Three important aspects that support students on sciences are:
- The Student Internship and Exchange Program (explained above)
- Undergraduate Research: In 2007, the Deanship of Research was created with the purpose of increasing research and awards granted to faculty. This office provides support to faculty in their efforts to file and administer research proposals. Campus researchers comprise a diverse set of scientific activities which encompass the natural, social and technology fields. These include: Mata de Plátano Field Station (http://facultad.bayamon.inter.edu/arodriguez/FieldStation/), a 130 acres natural reserve which lies within the much larger subtropical moist forest life zone in the northwest region of Puerto Rico; the Puerto Rico Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PR-LSAMP), an alliance between universities in Puerto Rico sponsored by the National Science Foundation which seeks to increase the quality and quantity of students in the areas of science, math, technology, and engineering; and the Manatee Conservation Center which is dedicated to the conservation of endangered marine life through scientific research, rescue, rehabilitation, and community education in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
- Pilot REU in marine sciences (under development).