MCNAIR PROGRAM WILL HELP
STUDENTS PURSUE DOCTORAL DEGREES
Syracuse University is among 168 colleges and universities from across the nation selected as sites for the highly competitive Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. SU is now part of a national network that recognizes and fosters the goals of talented students determined to pursue doctoral study. "Universities are both consumers and producers of academic talent," says Graduate School Dean Howard Johnson. "The thrust of the McNair program is to produce high-quality faculty for the future."
The program, established in honor of the late astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle tragedy, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. It requires participants to have a 3.0 grade point average, faculty recommendations, and either a financial need or be from underrepresented populations in doctoral education. The SU program will accept about 20 students each year.
SUs McNair Project, "Building a Diverse Professoriate," is a collaborative effort between the Graduate School and the Division of Student Support and Retention. Johnson and Horace Smith, associate vice president for undergraduate studies and retention, are the programs co-executive directors. "Our program enables the University to provide opportunities for students who have outstanding potential to be successful in graduate school, but would not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue graduate education," Smith says. "The program prepares students academically and emotionally, and helps them develop confidence and skills for success in graduate study."
Students are selected for the program during their sophomore year, and participate in McNair activities during their junior and senior years, says JoAnn May, director of supportive services. May and Stacy Tice, Graduate School assistant dean, co-direct the program, which features professional development seminars, preparation and practical exercises for college-level teaching, preparation for the GREs, assistance with graduate school applications, a mentoring program, and an independent original research project. The research project is a cornerstone of SUs program and links students with faculty mentors in their chosen discipline.
Tracy Ann Bernson, a graduate student in English and womens studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, was a McNair Scholar while an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire. She says the experience helped ease the transition to graduate school. "McNair gave me the confidence to pursue my goals," she says. "It opened doors, gave me networking opportunities, and helped me believe I had the ability to achieve what I wanted."