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Programs Supporting Minority Students in Geoscience

There are successful efforts to attract and support diverse students learning about the Earth in many institutions around the country. The profiles in this collection can serve as models and inspiration for departments and programs that aspire to broaden participation in the geosciences.

The browse below makes use of the US Federal Government's classifications of minority-serving institutions (MSI).

MSI Classifications

The federal government classifies US 2- and 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions which are eligible for federal student aid programs into seven mutually exclusive categories:

  1. HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities);
  2. Black-serving non-HBCUs: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs but in which Black students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students of all other individual minority groups each constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  3. Hispanic-serving: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs and in which Hispanic students constitute at least 25 percent of the undergraduate enrollment, while students of all other individual minority groups each constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  4. Asian-serving: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs and in which Asian/Pacific Islander students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students in each of the other minority groups constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  5. American Indian-serving: TCUs or institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs but in which American Indian/Alaska Native students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students in each of the other minority groups constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  6. Other minority-serving: institutions that do not fit any of the above categories but in which minority students as a whole constitute at least 50 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment; and
  7. Non-minority-serving: institutions that do not meet any of the criteria described above.

From:
Li, Xiaojie; C. Dennis Carroll (November 2007). "Characteristics of Minority-Serving Institutions and Minority Undergraduates Enrolled in These Institutions: Postsecondary Education Descriptive Analysis Report". Institute of Education Sciences (US Department of Education).

JSU Students in the Meteorology Lab
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Students in the Meteorology Laboratory at Jackson State University.[reuse info]
Provenance: Jackson State University Department of Physics, Atmospheric Science, and Geosciences
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SOLARIS Geo-Ventures Trip
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First SOLARIS Geo-Ventures event of the 2013-14 academic year. September, 2013[creative commons]
Provenance: Joshua Villalobos, EPCC
Reuse: This item is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ You may reuse this item for non-commercial purposes as long as you provide attribution and offer any derivative works under a similar license.
SKC Hydrology Stdents
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Students at Salish Kootenai Tribal College doing hydrology activities.[reuse info]
Provenance: http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/archives/3111
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FVSU Student
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photo of a FVSU student[reuse info]
Provenance: FVSU webpage- from this page: http://www.fvsu.edu/academics/cdep
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2008 LSAMP Scholarship class at UNM
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2008 LSAMP Scholarship class at UNM[reuse info]
Provenance: LSAMP UNM
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University of Texas at El Paso
The student population mirrors the community. About 80% of the population is Hispanic. About 90% of the student body, at the undergraduate level especially, comes from El Paso County. About 60% are the first in their family to go to college. Enrollment has increased greatly (approximately doubled) in the past 3 to 4 years, and this attributed in a large part to outreach and marketing. They have approximately 70 majors in geology and geophysics, plus another 70 students who are either environmental science majors in the geology department or concentrators in geology from the environmental science department.

El Paso Community College: SOLARIS
The SOLARIS (Student Opportunity for Learning Advanced Research In geoScience) program is aimed to increase participation, particularly for minority students, in the geosciences at El Paso Community College (EPCC). Funded by NSF's Opportunities in Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG) program, SOLARIS has two primary facets. First, workshops for local high school instructors and EPCC faculty provide educators with strategies to engage students with active learning techniques, information about geoscience careers, and possible degree plans through EPCC and the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). Secondly, as a bridge between the A.S. and B.S. degrees, the program allows up to 10 EPCC geological science majors per year to conduct geological research using equipment and facilities at both EPCC and UTEP and receive mentoring by both instructors at both institutions.

GateWay Community College
GateWay Community College is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and is one of 10 community colleges in the Maricopa community college district. Students tend to come from Maricopa county (the county that includes Phoenix) and graduating students tend to want to stay in Maricopa county. Just over 25% of the student body is hispanic. Many students are non-traditional students seeking re-career training. The average student age is around 35 years old. Many students do not have a previous degree, but some come in with bachelors and masters degrees. These students typically still need additional coursework to meet the certification requirements of the American Institute of Hydrology as hydrologic technicians to be hired by the USGS (or other federal or state agencies or local municipalities).

University of New Mexico
The University of New Mexico is a Hispanic Serving Institution with 38% of it's 29,000 student body being Hispanic. It also serves relatively large population of Native American students (5.5% of the student body) and a high percentage of first generation and 2-year college transfer students. One factor that contributes to the high percentage of minority students is that the state of New Mexico provides scholarships for students to attend college through revenue from lottery ticket sales. This helps to increase the diversity of students attending the school which benefits over 5,000 students per year across the state.

University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
The Department of Geology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

California State University, Bakersfield
What are the demographics of your institution and do the students in the program reflect that? Of the 8,520 students matriculated at California State University, Bakersfield in fall 2012, 53% were from groups underrepresented in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics, with Hispanics at 45% the largest group, and Blacks and Native Indians making up another 8%. Fall 2012 undergraduate geology major demographics are 37% Hispanic, 2% Black, and 1% American Indian, a reasonably close reflection of the demographics of the university as a whole. How many majors? In Fall 2013, there were well over 100 undergraduate geology majors and about 45 graduate students. What degree programs are available in the department? BS Geology, BA Geology, MS Geology Is there a historical reason for the program's existence? The undergraduate program was originally a broad-based BS in Earth Science degree that was among the first programs offered when the university was founded in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, the program was changed to a more focused, traditional BS Geology degree to better meet the needs of employers in the region. The MS Geology program was also initiated in the mid-1980s at the request of employers and professionals in the region.

Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
According to U.S. Census data, approximately 60% of the population in Corpus Christi was Hispanic in 2010 (most current data available). In the Fall of that year, approximately 40% of the students enrolled at TAMUCC were Hispanics (about 4,000 students). Nearly 20% of the geology majors that year were declared Hispanics; 13 students). The numbers increased for 2011 (30%) as well as 2012 (30%; 24 of the 79 geology majors). Despite the increase, these numbers clearly show, that recruitment efforts geared towards this population group need to improve. Within our department, there are also over 170 declared Environmental Sciences majors. As with Geology, approximately 30% of these students are Hispanics. Overall the Geology Program at TAMUCC has seen a substantial growth over the past 6 years (40% increase in enrollment). The program currently serves 85 majors and over 500 non-science majors (yearly). Part of the growth may reflect a regional increase in interest in the geosciences because of the Eagle Ford Shale "boom".

Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University is the northernmost campus of the California State University system located on the rural north coast, ~300 miles north of San Francisco. Campus demographics are changing rapidly to better reflect that of California. As Fall 2013, HSU was eligible for recognition as an Hispanic Serving Institution. The Geology Department has ~110 majors, ~10 of which are MS students, ~85 Geology BS/BA, and ~15 Geology BA-Geosciences Option. The Geosciences Option was revamped from a Geoscience Education Option that never gained viable enrollments in part due to changes in the Education program.

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.


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