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University alliance gets $2.5 million to encourage minorities in science and technology

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will lead 21 state colleges in trying to encourage more underrepresented minorities to get degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, the university has announced.

The alliance includes the UW System's 12 four-year universities and two-year colleges from around the state. The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Partnerships, a program of the National Science Foundation, contributed a $2.5 million grant to get the program rolling.

"Diversity is a part of America's strength," A. James Hicks, LSAMP's program director, said in a statement. "And if America is to remain preeminent in the [science, technology, engineering and math] fields, it must make use of its diversity."

Only 124 underrepresented minority students received bachelor's degrees in these fields from the participating Wisconsin colleges in the 2001-2002 school year, according to Douglass Henderson, a UW-Madison professor of engineering physics who co-directs the alliance here.

"Our goal is to try to double that number in the five-year period," he said.
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The grant will also help the UW System achieve its goals of increasing retention and graduation rates of minority students as part of Plan 2008. UW-Madison Provost Peter Spear welcomed the alliance's collaborative effort.

At UW-Madison, it will allow expanded classes and sections, including intermediate algebra classes in fall as well as spring, and fund supplimental instruction.

In the 2000 census, Wisconsin's population of 5.3 million included 300,000 African-Americans, 190,000 Hispanics, 47,000 American Indians, and approximately 30,000 to 40,000 Hmong.

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