NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) —Increasing the number of minority students who earn a Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering and math is the aim of a new “bridge to doctorate” program being launched by a coalition of Tennessee universities and led by Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded $987,000 to TSU to launch the new program as an expansion of the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, or TLSAMP. TLSAMP is a NSF-funded collaborative effort by 10 Tennessee colleges and universities to significantly increase and improve the retention of underrepresented minority students in STEM fields statewide.
“We are delighted that Vanderbilt University is the inaugural host for the Tennessee Bridge-to-the–Doctorate program,” said Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, Massie Chair of Excellence at Tennessee State University and TSLAMP executive director. “One of our goals is to increase the number of students attending graduate school. This award allows more of our students to transition into such programs. I am excited about this great opportunity for our students to continue their quest for doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Tennessee State University leads TLSAMP and includes Fisk University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Middle Tennessee State University, Nashville State Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Tennessee Technological University, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee – Knoxville and Vanderbilt. Each institution provides services that assist underrepresented minorities with the transition from high school to college, integrate them socially and academically into the university environment, and engage them in research and summer internship opportunities, and now include assisting to earn a Ph.D.
“We are thrilled to be working with TSU and our other Tennessee partners on this project. We all benefit by increasing the number of underrepresented minority students earning their Ph.D.s in these fields,” said Art Overholser, senior associate dean of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering and co-director of the new program. “The perspectives and talents of the students we hope to attract will not only enrich our research and teaching of STEM disciplines, but will serve as an example and inspiration for students to come.”
This is the second award in as many years for the TLSAMP from the National Science Foundation. In October 2013, TSU received a $2.5 million grant to increase the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded to students majoring in STEM disciplines while meeting the future needs of government, industry and education.
The five-year grant, said Sharpe, pays $493,207 per year and will impact nearly 3,800 underrepresented students throughout Tennessee at both ends of the collegiate pipeline, from community college to graduate school, and now the PH.D. level.
“These grants provides tremendous opportunities for us to increase the number of minority undergraduates and now Ph.Ds in the STEM field,” added Sharpe. “This will ultimately increase the number of students pursuing careers in the STEM workforce that drives the security and economy of our nation.”
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 45 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.