JULY 19, 1999


FORT WORTH, Texas -- The University of North Texas Health Science Center received almost $800,000 to support fellowship awards from the U.S. Department of Educationís Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The program will begin at the health science center this fall.

The McNair Program was established to prepare low-income students, first generation college students and students from groups underrepresented in graduate education for doctoral study. It was created in honor of Dr. Ronald McNair, an African-American physicist killed in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger mission.

The UNT Health Science Centerís Summer Minority Advanced Research Training (SMART) Program qualifies as a lead-in program for the McNair Scholars Program. The health science center will receive close to $200,000 a year for four years, to award to approximately eight to 10 underrepresented or disadvantaged students chosen from the SMART program.

SMART participants normally are entering their junior year at an undergraduate institution when selected for the health science center SMART program. The McNair fellowship includes stipends for research programs at the health science center during their junior and senior years. The McNair scholars will receive lab experience, graduate-level classwork and assistance in preparing for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). They will then be considered for admission into the health science centerís Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences or other graduate-level institution.

The McNair fellowship is awarded in 4-year cycles, with 109 higher education institutions receiving the fellowship for the current cycle. According to Robert Kaman, J.D., Ph.D., director of special school programs at the health science center, one of the goals of the McNair fellowship is to create more role models to encourage careers in the biomedical sciences for underrepresented or disadvantages students.

"The health science center is able to offer a strong support system by our faculty for the students in the McNair program," said Dr. Kaman. "Elizabeth Davis, our associate director of multicultural affairs who will be coordinating the program, has over 10 years of experience in helping students scholastically and developmentally to prepare for higher education."

The initial group of McNair fellows from the health science center will be named later this summer, with students in the current SMART program as some of the recipients.