11 July 2010

The NSF’s plan for minority students (or lack thereof)

NSF logoBoth Diverse Blog and Fairer Science are reporting that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is considering basically killing funding programs that specialize in supporting minority-serving institutions. Programs that support universities with mostly black and First Nations students, and a planned program for universities with lots of Hispanics (like my own), may be pooled into one program... that any institution can compete with.

I am astonished to hear this, because it was a year or two ago that I was in the same room with two NSF representatives, discussing ways to make a new program for Hispanic serving institutions that would work well.

If they just consolidate all the existing programs and let everyone compete for them, institutions like ours are going to get smushed.

Like a bug.

Competing with a lot of more established research universities for anything is a bit like this:

You’re short stacked, and as the game goes on, the leaders at the table have more resources and more options, and the law of large numbers says you will be slowly ground out of the game more often than you win.

NSF is taking comments until 1 August. I guess I’m going to have to write a memo. Obviously, I have a vested interest in seeing such programs continue.

Hat tip to Biochem Belle. Photo by Rambis on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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