(Ashland, Ore.) — The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Southern Oregon University its fifth Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement grant. The award of $274,983 annually will total $1,374,915 over the five-year grant cycle, from 2022 through 2027.
The grant helps underrepresented and first-generation undergraduate students from low-income backgrounds to prepare for research-intensive doctoral programs.
The program is named for Dr. Ronald E. McNair, who was a member of the Challenger space shuttle’s seven-person crew that met a tragic end in a 1986 explosion. As a tribute to his achievements, Congress and the McNair family formed the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program to assist young people in both following McNair’s path and taking the initiative to chart their own courses.
Since its inception in 2003, SOU’s McNair Scholars program has provided an intensive research experience and graduate school preparation to more than 160 students. Under the new grant, 28 students each year will share the prestige of being McNair Scholars.
The SOU McNair Scholars program serves students who have the desire to continue their education beyond the undergraduate level from all academic disciplines. Scholars complete an eight-week research internship in the summer, attend weekly seminars to help prepare them for testing and graduate school applications, and travel to national McNair conferences and graduate program visitations.
The track record of those who have completed SOU’s McNair program is far above the national average for education continuation among undergraduate students. The SOU program has a 95 percent undergraduate graduation rate, and 98 percent of participants who have completed the McNair program, earned a bachelor’s degree and submitted graduate school applications have ultimately received admission to at least one graduate-level program. Of those who have been admitted to graduate programs, 97 percent have chosen to attend.
Alumni of SOU’s McNair program have received more than $7 million in grants, scholarships and fellowships to support their graduate educations. More than 70 graduate degrees – including 15 doctorates – have been earned by SOU McNair alumni.
The SOU McNair program is directed on an interim basis by Associate Provost Dan DeNeui, and the program coordinator is Naomi McCreary.