FORT WORTH, Texas— An organization working with the National Institutes of Health has designated the University of North Texas Health Science Center a "Role Model Institution" for its efforts in recruiting minority students.
Minority Access, Inc. assists federal agencies, universities, and corporations to diversify their worksites and/or classrooms. It works with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Minority Research to identify institutions with an exemplary commitment to and success in producing minority biomedical student researchers. It will provide the names of all role model institutions to the NIH’s newly established National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
The UNT Health Science Center was selected as a role model because of the ongoing outreach efforts of its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The outreach efforts contributed to an increase in African-American and Hispanic students at the health science center while national enrollment figures were declining.
"We designed creative strategies to reach new students, and they’ve been the key to recruiting minority students into studying science here," said Thomas Yorio, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. "We encourage students from elementary school through their college years to enter science fields."
In the academic year 1999-2000, the graduate school was recognized as the leading State of Texas health science center based on the percentage of its minority graduate enrollment. In the present entering class, fully 36 percent of the class is under-represented minorities, almost equal to the 39 percent of the class that is Caucasian students.
In 1993, the Graduate School opened with 66 students, including five Hispanics and one African-American. This fall, 113 students were enrolled in the program, including 15 Hispanics and 11 African-Americans.
"We recruit one student at a time and then ask those students to recruit others," said Robert Kaman, Ph.D., J.D., director of the Minority Outreach Office at the health science center. "We also build relationships with institutions that have strong science programs but no doctoral degrees. Working together, we can bridge their students’ education into a doctoral degree in biomedical sciences."
The Role Model Project identifies institutions that excel in producing minority researchers. As an award recipient, the health science center will share its methods at a national conference this fall in Washington, D.C.
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