Aug. 1, 2013

Cornell named a mentoring center by Sloan Foundation

Cornell has been awarded a three-year, $1.2 million grant to become one of three new University Centers of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced July 31.

The new partnership, which includes Georgia Institute of Technology and Pennsylvania State University, was initiated through the foundation’s Minority Ph.D. Program. The program cited universities with a proven record of educating underrepresented minority graduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. These universities will be expected to expand, strengthen and institutionalize minority recruitment, mentoring, educational support and professional development.

The University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Cornell has many programs planned, including recruitment and outreach efforts, a one-on-one mentoring program for minority scholars, a three-day leadership development training program, and a year-long series of seminars, workshops, lunches and social events that provide professional development advice and opportunities to minority students.

“We are very proud and grateful to be recognized by the Sloan Foundation. This new award recognizes the institutional commitment to diversity, allows us to expand the successful Cornell Sloan Scholars program beyond the College of Engineering, and gives Cornell the opportunity to play a larger role in national efforts to diversify the research and leadership ranks of academia, industry and government,” said Alan Zehnder, associate dean for diversity and faculty development in the College of Engineering.

Cornell’s program, managed by Diversity Programs in Engineering, will provide three years of stipend support and additional support for research and professional development to 27 new underrepresented minority Ph.D. students in engineering and applied life science fields.

Cornell was chosen based on such criteria as its historical success recruiting and mentoring doctoral students from underrepresented minorities; the quality of its departments and programs constituting the UCEM; the quality, breadth and creativity of planned future activities; and the strength of its institutional commitment to furthering education for underrepresented minorities in the natural and physical sciences, mathematics and engineering.

The University Centers of Exemplary Mentoring represents a change in the direction of the Sloan Foundation’s Minority Ph.D. program. Founded in 1995, the program initially focused on support at the individual mentor or department level, providing scholarships to students in more than 60 graduate programs across the country.

Each center will receive administrative support through the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. Students supported through these programs will also have the opportunity to participate in the Southern Regional Education Board’s Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, the largest professional development conference for minority scholars.

Cornell’s Sloan grant principal investigators are: Zehnder; Sara Hernandez, director of Diversity Programs in Engineering; Marjolein van der Meulen, associate dean for research and graduate studies and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Avery August, professor and chair of microbiology and immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.