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McNair program awarded $1.1 million grant

11:05 a.m., Aug. 29, 2003--The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program at UD has been awarded a $1.1 million grant by the U. S. Department of Education in recognition of its past successes.

Since its inception in 1999, the McNair program at UD has helped to successfully prepare participants for postgraduate careers in research and education.

The five-year grant will continue to support students in a variety of McNair programs, including a summer internship program geared toward simulating the graduate school experience, Maria Palacas, McNair program director, said.

“The UD grant proposal was among the top 5 percent of proposals submitted during this year’s grant competition,” Palacas said. “UD was awarded an extra year because it received a perfect score from three independent reviewers.”

The program, one of 156 nationwide, honors physicist Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the second African-American astronaut in space, who was among those who died aboard the space shuttle “Challenger” in 1986.

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“The McNair program at UD has set a national standard of excellence and success, and 100 percent of our graduates have applied to graduate school and been accepted into the graduate programs of their choice,” Palacas said. “Additionally, all have received financial awards for their graduate education.”

The grant also reflects the University’s commitment to undergraduate research, a key component of the McNair program, Palacas said.

More than 30 percent of UD McNair Scholars expand their summer research by engaging in a senior thesis through the Office of Undergraduate Research, and more than 40 percent further enhance their research by studying abroad.

In 2002, Simone Delerme, a McNair Scholar from Wilmington, won a prestigious Truman Scholarship. The award recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to public service careers and provides recipients with a $30,000 merit-based award to be used for graduate study.

Another honor was bestowed on UD’s McNair program in March when it won the University’s 2003 Louis Lorenzo Redding Diversity Award.

Named for the late civil rights attorney and the first African American to be admitted to the Delaware bar, the award is given annually to a UD individual, unit, department or organization that promotes, enhances and implements diversity that results in a “significant change in the campus climate and /or the composition within the University community.”

The McNair Program also is the model for the newly created University Undergraduate Scholars Program, a UD initiative that uses the McNair program model to provide services to a larger number and even more diverse body of qualified scholars, Palacas said.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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