University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers will join President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action is part of an ongoing effort by President Obama to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

As part of the White House College Opportunity Day of Action, the University of Richmond has made a commitment to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who declare STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors and graduate with STEM degrees.

“A central principle of the University’s strategic plan, The Richmond Promise, is to expand educational opportunity to students of all means and backgrounds,” said Ayers.  “Increasing the number of Richmond graduates from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and math disciplines is a key component of that effort.  Providing these students with opportunities not only contributes to their success but also that of the economy and our nation.”

In the past two years, nearly one-third of STEM-interested students enrolling as first-year students at Richmond have been from groups underrepresented in STEM.

To more effectively support STEM students, the University has launched the University of Richmond Integrated Science Experience (URISE), a summer bridge program supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This program focuses on skill development, provides authentic research experiences and builds a community of support for 100 incoming students in STEM. Highlights of the program include:

  1. Investigation-based laboratory experiments designed to help prepare students for success in first-year science and math courses.
  2. Experiences that help students build community, self-awareness and practical knowledge for navigating the college environment.
  3. Introduction to different career options for STEM majors through a partnership with career services and networking with alumni who represent a variety of STEM careers.

After completing URISE, students join one of two interdisciplinary, and research-based first-year courses – Integrated Quantitative Science or Science, Math and Research Training – which integrate the coursework of foundational science classes in a single course organized around a central problem, such as anti-biotic resistance.  All students who complete these courses also receive funding to support their full-time engagement in faculty-mentored research experience the summer after their first year in college. 

# # #