Florida A&M University (FAMU) is No. 1 in the nation as the institution of origin for African Americans who earn doctorates in natural science and engineering.
In a pre-publication copy of Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads, the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine reported that FAMU is No. 1 out of the top 25 universities in the U.S. An institution of origin is where a person earns his or her bachelor’s degree.
In the report, the top 10 baccalaureate institutions of African Americans who went on to earn doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering for the period 2002-2006 were historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Some of the other universities that were listed in the top 25 included Howard University, Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, Hampton University and North Carolina A&T State University. University of Florida was one of the non-HBCUs listed in the top 25.
“FAMU’s highly talented and dedicated faculty prepare and motivate our students to pursue doctoral degrees,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “These statistics also underscore the importance of HBCUs in producing our brain trust for the future.”
According to the National Academics web site, the national efforts to strengthen U.S. science and engineering must include all Americans, especially minorities, who are the fastest growing groups of the U.S. population but the most underrepresented in science and technology careers. Minority participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels should be an urgent national priority, says the report, which offers a comprehensive road map for increasing involvement of underrepresented minorities and improving the quality of their education.
“It’s well-documented that the United States needs a strong science and technology workforce to maintain global leadership and competitiveness,” said Freeman Hrabowski III, chair of the committee who wrote the report and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “The minds and talents of underrepresented minorities are a great, untapped resource that the nation can no longer afford to squander. Improving STEM education of our diverse citizenry will strengthen the science and engineering work force and boost the U.S. economy.”
The report also notes that underrepresented minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, comprised just more than 9 percent of minority college-educated Americans in science and engineering occupations in 2006. This number would need to triple to match the share of minorities in the U.S. population. Furthermore, to reach a national target that 10 percent of all 24-year-olds hold an undergraduate degree in science or engineering disciplines, the number of underrepresented minorities would need to quadruple or even quintuple.
The National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.