"Taking LSAMP into the Future"
Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation
September 12, 2002
Good morning to you all. Thank you, Bill1
, for the introduction, and thanks to you and to Provost
Caldwell2 for your fine
work with LSAMP. Let me also say how grateful I am
to President Swygert3
-- and to all the leaders with us today -- for providing
the supportive atmosphere and commitment to excellence
that makes for LSAMP success.
I'm delighted to be here at Howard University for this
meeting of the Washington/Baltimore/ Hampton Roads-LSAMP.
We are gathered to talk about a matter of great national
importance: how to diversify the science, technology,
engineering and mathematics workforce.
I'll begin by congratulating all of you here who have
labored long and hard to achieve LSAMP's goals. We
are all aware of the tremendous effort it takes to
design and operate a successful program. You have
done a magnificent job of increasing the participation
of underrepresented minority students in science and
The LSAMP program overall is a wonderful success story.
Since it began in 1990, the program has produced well
over 170,000 minority baccalaureate graduates. This
year, student participants in LSAMP reached an all
time high of 201,615 enrollees.
And the LSAMP umbrella is continuously expanding. Three
new alliances were recently added - the Pacific, Northeast,
and Mid-Eastern LSAMPs. The WBHR-LSAMP alliance has
added new partners as well. Welcome to all of you!
With this impressive and growing reach, we can be
assured that LSAMP will continue to enhance minority
All of us at NSF appreciate your consistently effective
work of recruiting bright and talented students to
science, engineering, mathematics and technology disciplines.
And, your commitment to mentoring and nurturing, especially
your one-on-one interactions, has made the difference
for many students in earning their degree.
Congratulations are no less in order for LSAMP students.
I don't have to remind the students who are with us
today, how much plain, hard work and determination
go into learning, or list the many hurdles each of
you has surmounted. You can take pride in your achievements.
As you move on to advanced studies, or set forth on
new careers, you will continue to pave the way for
those who follow.
That's one of the special strengths of LSAMP. It brings
together learners and teachers alike in a partnership
that demands the best efforts of each.
Just yesterday we remembered the tragic events of one
year ago. The nation remains united around common
goals in the face of adversity. Our changing circumstances
have created new demands and called forth new responsibilities.
During the 1990s we learned just how important science,
engineering, and technology are to economic vitality
and our prospects for a higher quality of life. Now
we add national security to the list.
This is surely a time when we need all our talent to
meet new responsibilities. This group knows better
than most the strength and advantages that we can
gain by realizing our untapped potential.
That brings us to why we are all here today. We are
united in the need to diversify the science and engineering
workforce so that it reflects the ever-changing composition
of our nation. This is not only the "right" and "just"
thing to do, but also the "best" move to make for
the nation's future. And your hard work with WBHR-LSAMP
has already brought us steps closer to making it a
We all know why this is our "best" path. But the story
is worth retelling. Until everyone hears this message
- loud and clear - we won't move far enough, fast
enough. So let me briefly cover this familiar landscape
Our society is rooted in science and technology and
cannot sustain itself, let alone be robust, without
a world-class cadre of scientists, engineers, mathematicians,
and a highly qualified, complementary workforce.
Broadening participation in our specialized science
and engineering workforce must come from "The Land
of Plenty," our mostly untapped potential of underrepresented
minorities - America's "competitive edge" for the
21st century. Herein lies one of America's greatest
opportunities, one that we must meet with commitment.
The general workforce today reflects more gender equality,
and cultural and racial diversity than ever before.
Yet, we still have a long way to go in reaching out
and cashing in on the talents and skills of many more
of our citizens.
In contrast, the science and engineering workforce
does not show the same trend as the general workforce
towards a representation at least in parity with our
population. At present, we are not producing a diverse
cadre of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians
necessary to meet the needs of today's technology-based
This is especially troublesome now and for the future.
First, U.S. jobs are growing fastest in areas requiring
knowledge and skills in science, engineering and mathematics.
The Department of Labor estimates that 60% of the new
jobs being created in our economy today require these
skills, while only 22% of young people now entering
the job market possess them. By the end of this decade,
virtually every job will require some level of technological
literacy. Unfortunately, our high school graduates
are ill prepared for the changing demands of today's
We simply must do a better job preparing our students
for a world that we ourselves cannot completely anticipate.
Our entire workforce must be educated and trained
to participate fully in a society that is increasingly
complex but potentially more fulfilling for each of
us. Our science and engineering workforce, in particular,
will be critical to the task.
Second, as the pack of nations with economies enabled
by technology continues to grow, they present both
potential partners and growing competition for U.S.
products and services in the world market.
How are we going to compete, or partner for that matter,
if we don't have the necessary human capital to do
so? Diversifying the science and engineering workforce
is vital to sustaining our economic pace and continuing
our ability to compete.
Focusing on broadening participation of underrepresented
minorities has to be the drumbeat for all of us. Our
science and engineering workforce can become ever
more capable and competitive by achieving this goal.
They can, in turn, help raise the capabilities of
all citizens. Our nation can become even stronger
and more productive.
That, in a nutshell, is the case for broadening participation
in the workforce, and for raising the science, engineering
and mathematics skills of all our young people. We
ignore these responsibilities at great peril. It is
simply unrealistic to believe that we can continue
to lead the world economically, secure peace and protect
our freedoms without the finest abilities of every
Here in this country, we are lucky to have a diverse
population. Unfortunately, we haven't recognized it
as a gold mine. Our diversity provides us with different
perspectives, an eclectic set of problem solving skills,
a talent for tapping into the psyche of global markets,
not just domestic markets, and a mix that strengthens
our national fabric.
The increasing complexity of science and engineering
issues today demands that we marshal these differing
perspectives and bring them to the table where issues
are defined and solutions rendered. It's not just
a matter of justice and fairness. It's a matter of
being smart. There's no better way to capture global
leadership than by capitalizing on our nation's extraordinary
That brings me to my second topic: what can we say
about future goals? We already know of the terrific
job that the LSAMP program is doing in broadening
minority participation. LSAMP students account for
70 percent of all minority baccalaureates in science
and engineering. That's a splendid success story by
The challenges ahead are still huge, but we are wiser
and more confident in our progress. In the current
climate of increasing opportunity and more urgent
need, I believe we can raise our expectations. The
times are right for setting new goals and striving
for even greater accomplishments.
Here is one example. For each of the last several years,
LSAMP baccalaureates have numbered over 20,000. Even
with LSAMP's success, our nation could use at least
50,000 minority science and engineering graduates
each year. We know the talent is there. It's up to
all of us to create the educational and institutional
innovations that will make that goal a reality.
Another challenge is moving more LSAMP students on
to graduate studies, and producing more minority PhDs
directed towards faculty positions. If we can pull
from the LSAMP pool, we will have made tremendous
You have shown that LSAMP leaders are masters at smoothing
transitions, those critical junctions where students
too often tumble down rocky paths. The time is ripe
to take more LSAMP students to the next level. The
Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate
- AGEP for short - has set the pace in just a few
But our challenge is much larger. If we are going to
develop a broader workforce in science and engineering,
we need to reexamine our assumptions about education
across the board, from kindergarten to lifelong learning.
NSF is committed to this task.
To prepare students for science and engineering careers,
NSF programs start with early education. The President's
Math and Science Partnership program aims to "leave
no child behind." We are in total agreement with this
The program will link local schools with colleges and
universities to improve preK-12 math and science education,
train teachers, and create innovative ways to reach
out to underserved students and schools.
Here is another area where talented LSAMP students
are critically needed! Teaching at the preK-12 levels
is crucial to this long-term goal, and many LSAMP
programs are leading the way.
But NSF's commitment doesn't end there. We especially
hope to develop research evidence on how to reach
under-served schools and students in creative new
These efforts are elements in NSF's larger, integrated
strategy to promote science, technology, engineering
and math training to a broader constituency. NSF has
a long tradition of support for innovation in science,
engineering, mathematics and technology education.
Now, in the NSF Workforce for the 21st Century priority
area, we will build on what we have learned in the
past to develop an even more effective, more ambitious
Our aim is to embed minority participation strategies
across the full spectrum of NSF programs. That means
identifying our most successful programs to encourage
minority participation - like LSAMP, AGEP, and Centers
of Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) -
and bringing them together with other highly successful
programs. Among these are Research Experiences for
Undergraduates, the HBCU-Undergraduates Program, the
GK-12 program, the Math and Science Partnerships,
to name just a few. Other NSF centers of excellence
- Science and Technology Centers, the Engineering
Research Centers, the Centers for Learning and Teach
and the Long Term Ecological Research Program - may
also contribute to campus programs.
The idea is to weave together what are now separate
but complementary efforts and to integrate these activities
across and among institutions. These new institutional
collaborations aim to produce results different from
and greater than the sum of the parts. The final vision
is a seamless route of advancement for students from
K-12 through postdoctoral levels.
This vision will only be realized through a wave of
innovation that you initiate. Innovation is key to
moving beyond our current performance to fresher,
more inclusive, more productive, educational systems.
NSF has always relied upon the science and engineering
community to provide this innovation. The best ideas
come from you, as you respond to the circumstances
and needs that confront you daily, and imagine the
shape of a better future.
If you look at LSAMP programs across the nation, you
will find astonishing diversity in the paths each
program pioneers to reach the same, shared goal. The
imagination, ideas, knowledge, and innovation that
generate our progress will come from you and those
I believe there are significant synergies that we can
foster through better integration. The rapidly changing
nature of science and engineering research is presenting
new demands that will only increase in the years ahead,
and we must meet these demands at the same time as
we work toward broader participation.
For example, we need to prepare graduates to adapt
to change and handle complexity. They must be functionally
literate across disciplinary boundaries as a skill
for facing several iterations in their careers.
Today, careers evolve throughout a person's lifetime.
Yesterday, workers mastered a profession and worked
within the limited walls of a sole discipline. Now
workers take the tools of their individual disciplines
and expand them outward to new endeavors and cross-boundary
interactions, changing the character of their disciplines
in their wake.
We must also recognize that interdisciplinary work
includes the social, behavioral and economic sciences.
The social sciences are an important component in
addressing many social problems, issues as diverse
as the war on terrorism and workforce competency.
Social sciences are integral to all of our work if
we are to proceed with insight and understand the
context and background of any problem.
That's why NSF plans to seed a new priority area in
the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, called
Human and Social Dynamics, that will investigate how
humans and societies create and adapt to the changes
that are a pervasive feature of our 21st century world.
These explorations will give us better tools to anticipate
and prepare for the consequences of change.
This sampling can only hint at the magnitude of the
challenges ahead. I only bring these formidable tasks
to you because I know you are capable, confident,
and utterly conscientious!
Let me conclude by commending WBHR-LSAMP for your role
in ensuring that the minority segment of the population
is not left behind. You are creating excitement and
encouragement among minority populations to participate
enthusiastically in science and engineering careers.
Without your help as leaders in this process, the
United States will not be able to marshal the talents
of our diverse minority population. I can only thank
you profusely for a job well done and remind you we
are still at the beginning.
Now it's your turn. I would be delighted to hear your
comments and questions.
- Dr. William R. Gordon, WBHR-LSAMP
- Dr. A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert,
Provost, Howard University
- Dr. H. Patrick Swygert, President,
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