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October 26, 2006

Symposium to focus on underrepresented students in sciences

Sharing information on successful strategies for mentoring and retaining underrepresented students in the sciences is the goal of a symposium that is expected to draw participants from more than 30 institutions to campus this weekend.

The symposium is the last in a series aimed at engaging institutions nationwide in developing successful diversity programs. The two previous gatherings were at Harvard University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The UW event will bring together administrators, faculty and students from institutions — primarily large research universities — that have made a commitment to supporting diversity among undergraduates and graduate students in the sciences, said organizer Barbara Wakimoto, a UW biology professor. It builds on successful mentoring programs for underrepresented students that have been developed at several universities.

The UW symposium, which includes 32 colleges and universities, begins Friday, with a free public lecture at 7:30 p.m. in 130 Kane by Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which has a highly successful diversity in science program. The symposium, which concludes Saturday, is sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the College of Arts and Sciences, the Provost’s Office and the UW-Howard Hughes Undergraduate Science Education Programs.

Participating colleges and universities have submitted institutional data on underrepresented minority participation in undergraduate science programs, established their own definitions of success for mentoring and retention programs, and set goals and a plan to meet those goals. Participants in the three symposia will form a consortium of schools that will work together to promote diversity in the sciences.