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Oct. 23, 2007
CONTACT: Ward Mullens

EMU recieves $1.1 million Department of Education grant to increase number of first generation college students attaining doctoral degrees

YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University’s Honors College has received a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education worth $1.1 million.

The grant will establish a McNair Scholars Program at EMU as part of the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which was created to help increase the number of low-income, first-generation college students attaining doctoral degrees.

The program is named for Ronald McNair, one of the astronauts who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. McNair was the first in his family to attend college. He went on to earn a doctorate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“EMU’s McNair Scholars Program will provide significant support for students who are either low-income and first-generation, or from underrepresented groups and who intend to pursue a doctoral degree,” said Jim Knapp, director of the honors college at EMU. “In their junior and senior years, McNair Scholars will work closely with faculty mentors on undergraduate research projects that will prepare them for graduate study. In addition, the program will offer students workshops and seminars on undergraduate research, professionalization, and the graduate application process, among other topics.”

Knapp said that “the real heart of the program is the Summer Research Institute (SRI), a 10-week intensive research experience for McNair Scholars in the summer between their junior and senior years. The SRI will give students hands-on research experience prior to the senior year, during which most students apply for graduate school.

The proposal is a collaborative effort which includes contributions from biology, chemistry, teacher education and the Honors College.

            “One of my roles was to research and prepare a statement of need for a McNair program at EMU,” said Gary Hannan, professor of biology and faculty associate in the Honors College.  “It became very clear that EMU was a perfect fit to the goals of the McNair program: prepare low-income, first-generation students for entry into Ph.D. programs.  For example, in 2006, EMU enrolled 1,259 students who were both low-income and first-generation college students (7% of the total student population).”

The DOE grant will provide $220,000 each year for the next five years and EMU has pledged $96,000, or 43 percent of the project’s overall cost.



Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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