William Paterson University Receives Nearly $5 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Education for Hispanic Serving Institutions to Increase STEM Majors

William Paterson University has received a $4.99 million U.S. Department of Education Grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. The grant, to be awarded over five years, will target Hispanic and low-income first-time, first-year students and transfer students from Passaic County Community College (PCCC).

“These funds will offer much-needed support for our community of students to pursue STEM programs,” says Joshua Powers, PhD, William Paterson University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and a member of the grant’s project team. “This grant will greatly enhance opportunities and support pathways for students to learn and thrive in STEM majors and increase the number of STEM graduates entering the workforce.”

The project, titled Access to STEM Pathways through Integrated Research and Engagement (ASPIRE), will aim to increase the total number of overall William Paterson University STEM majors; particularly, the number of low-income and Hispanic STEM students transferring from PCCC to William Paterson University in a STEM discipline. The project will also aim to increase the number of Hispanic juniors and seniors who participate in work-based learning such as internships and research fellowships as well as increase the four-year graduation rates of the participating students. 

The grant will also support the roles of specialized personnel who will provide individualized support to these students and who will connect them to resources at William Paterson University and PCCC, all while facilitating a transfer plan. Once a student enrolls at William Paterson University, the student will receive individualized coaching and access to resources such as tutoring, supplemental instruction, career services, mental health counseling and financial aid. 

In addition to Powers, other members of the grant project team include Guillermo de Veyga, vice president for strategic initiatives and university relations; Venkat Sharma, dean, College of Science and Health; Melkamu Zeleke, interim associate dean, College of Science and Health; Sandra Hill, associate provost for academic affairs; and Patrick Noonan, director of transfer programs and special sessions.

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