Independent Public Mission Schools

Saint Peter’s: Awarded Largest Grant In University History

The $3.8 Million Federal Grant will Support Hispanic & Low-Income Students in STEM Fields

Saint Peter’s University today announced that it has been awarded a historic grant of more than $3.8 million by the U.S. Department of Education through the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) STEM Program. The five-year grant was awarded for a project titled, SURGE (STEM Undergraduate Retention Graduation and Empowerment) and will provide a total of $3,874,222 with the first year beginning October 1, 2016.

“We are deeply gratified to be the recipients of this record-breaking grant and I am personally grateful for the faculty and staff who worked tirelessly on the grant application,” said Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University. “Increasing the number of STEM graduates has become critical to the future workforce and economy of the United States, particularly in the state of New Jersey where the demand for STEM employment ranks in the top quarter nationally. Saint Peter’s has established itself as a leader in STEM education as strong STEM programs already exist and the STEM fields make-up the largest percentage of majors at the University. With the receipt of this grant, we look forward to enhancing our resources in the STEM curriculum to inspire and support these students on the path to successful careers.”

The HSI STEM Program supports postsecondary education institutions in providing opportunities meant to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students attaining degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. While nationally the number of Hispanic students graduating with a postsecondary degree has been increasing, these students are continuously underrepresented in the number of students earning STEM degrees. Saint Peter’s currently serves a high percentage of Hispanic students with a higher interest in STEM compared to the national average. The SURGE initiative is designed to further increase enrollment, retention, academic performance and graduation of Hispanic and low-income students in STEM at Saint Peter’s.

With this transformational grant, the University will, during the next five years:

• Establish a holistic STEM Engagement Center offering faculty and peer tutoring, comprehensive advisement, early warning and tracking system loaned laptops, calculators and textbooks, and non-cognitive workshops.

• Enhance the dual admissions program for STEM majors from Hudson County Community College (HCCC) whose students will have full access to the STEM Engagement Center and summer research opportunities.

• Expand high school outreach activities by adding summer research experiences and bilingual workshops for parents.

• Develop a curriculum to improve STEM success rates by providing professional development in evidence-based pedagogies to all STEM faculty.

• Engage students through research by offering paid faculty-student research opportunities in newly renovated labs as well as summer research experiences for high school and HCCC students.

• Provide state-of-the-art technology such as new software, upgraded classrooms and a computer lab to support student success.

The grant application was co-led by Maryellen Hamilton, Ph.D., professor and chair of the psychology department and Virginia Bender ’78, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for institutional planning. Dr. Hamilton will serve as the grant project director.

“Saint Peter’s University’s receipt of this selective honor is testament to Saint Peter’s commitment to excellence in education and diverse programming that encourages students to excel in their chosen fields,” said Congressman Albio Sires ’74, in an award letter to the University.