Union recognized for its efforts to promote STEM to women and underrepresented groups

Publication Date

Union has received the 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

The College is among 50 schools honored for encouraging and assisting students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Winners will be featured in the magazine’s September issue.

The College was recognized for its SUCCESS-LEADERS program (Stimulating Undergraduates: Creating Contributors in Engineering and Science for Society).

Funded by an initial grant from the National Science Foundation in 2014 and overseen by Joanne Kehlbeck, associate professor of chemistry, the program supports the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented groups in all STEM disciplines.

Known as SUCCESS Scholars, 10 exceptional students are selected each year to receive opportunities to enhance their education through early introduction to research opportunities, connections to industry and internships, study abroad and leadership training.

Success award

Michael Vineyard, the Frank and Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Physics, works in the lab with Mia Villeneuve '22, a physics major with a minor in theater. Villeneuve is part of a program that supports the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented groups in all STEM disciplines.

The classes of 2018 and 2019 boasted a 100 percent graduation rate, including 62 percent women and 33 percent underrepresented students.

Others in the SUCCESS-LEADERS program include Samuel Amanuel, associate professor of physics and astronomy; Ronald Bucinell, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Rebecca Cortez, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Holli Frey, associate professor and chair of geology; Laura MacManus-Spencer, associate professor of chemistry; Michael Hagerman, professor of chemistry; Chad Orzel, the R. Gordon Gould Associate Professor of Physics and director of Undergraduate Research; and Matt Malatesta ‘91, vice president for Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment.

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

Recent studies show that women are vastly underrepresented in the STEM fields, comprising about a quarter of the workforce. Only 2.9 percent of black women, 3.6 percent of Latinas and 4.8 percent of Asian women earn STEM degrees.

Union has a history of success with undergraduate STEM education initiatives that encourage the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented students. Since 2000, Union has been awarded five STEM education initiative grants from the NSF, totaling more than $3 million.

USA Today College Guide named the College a top-five institution for women studying STEM fields.

“We are grateful to be recognized for our dedication to attracting and retaining women and underrepresented students in STEM,” said Gretchel Hathaway, the dean of Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. “This is a critical issue for our country, and this award from INSIGHT Into Diversity speaks to the commitment of our faculty and staff.”