Peeples Is Part of New UI Mentoring Center for Minority Graduate Students

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The University of Iowa has been awarded a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to establish one of only five University Centers of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) in the nation.

The centers are located at universities with proven records of educating underrepresented minority graduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. Participating universities are expected to expand, strengthen and institutionalize minority recruitment, mentoring, educational support and professional development.

Tonya Peeples, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and associate dean for diversity and outreach, is a principal investigator in the new center.

The UCEM’s director will be Colleen Mitchell, mathematics associate professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

Planned UCEM activities at the University of Iowa include:

  • Increased recruitment and outreach efforts.
  • Expanded mentoring programs for minority scholars.
  • Development of year-round seminars, workshops, and social events to provide professional development opportunities to minority students.

In addition to the UI, the University of South Florida was awarded an UCEM for 2014. These schools join three others awarded in 2013—Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Pennsylvania State University.

The UI was selected based on several criteria, including: 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 represent 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 UCEM participant 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.