NSF gives Catholic school millions to promote DEI in STEM

The program will 'adopt intersectionality and a sense of belonging as overarching frameworks.'

A New York Catholic university announced that it has been awarded $3.5 million in order to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in STEM fields.

In a June 12 statement, Molloy University revealed that “[t]he National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program has awarded a five-year $3.5M grant” to the university, “which is leading an alliance of seven member institutions from the Lower Hudson Valley Catholic Colleges and Universities Consortium.”

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“The grant will support student success by creating a new generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) discoverers for the national STEM enterprise. The program will take a comprehensive approach to the STEM learning ecosystem to impact STEM student development and retention,” the statement continues. 

The university writes that the “program will adopt intersectionality and a sense of belonging as overarching frameworks,” and adds: “In higher education, a sense of belonging can refer to students’ perceptions of social support within the campus environment.”

The university will use these “frameworks” to “lessen systemic and institutional barriers for underrepresented minorities (URMs) in STEM to achieve LSAMP’s overall mission.”

One of the main goals of the program is to “[i]ncrease the enrollment of URMs in STEM majors.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) describes LSAMP as “an alliance-based program, whereby a group of institutions of higher education (IHEs) work together to diversify the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by increasing the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to persons from LSAMP populations.”

“LSAMP populations are defined as persons from groups underrepresented in the STEM enterprise: Blacks and African-Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders,” the NSF writes. 

Besides Molloy, the other six Catholic institutions of higher education taking part in the five-year program are “Manhattan College, Mount Saint Mary College, St. Francis College, St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University New York, and St. Thomas Aquinas College,” Molloy wrote. 

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“This partnership and collaboration for a grant among seven Catholic universities is unique, creative, and noteworthy,” Molloy University President James Lentini said. “The multifaceted goal of the grant is to support underrepresented minority students in STEM. This is important and valuable for the communities and populations we serve. It is good for the region.”

Lentini also described the program as “a case study or example of how other institutions with similar characteristics might fortify STEM pipelines for URM students within their institutional contexts.”

Campus Reform has reached out to Molloy University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.