In the spring of 2014, the College of William & Mary was awarded a five year, $1.6 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the advancement of undergraduate science education. Building on previous HHMI funding, the particular focus of the current funding is on ensuring that all students, including those from non-traditional and under-represented backgrounds succeed and flourish in STEM disciplines.
National statistics indicate that well over half of all students who begin college intending to major in science or mathematics fail to complete a STEM degree. This attrition is most dramatic during the first year of college and is even more dramatic for students who are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences
With funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the College of William and Mary will implement a program that ensure that students who are from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields not only complete STEM degrees, but do so with strong academic credentials and post-graduate outcomes. Towards this end, the HHMI grant has established the “Wren Scholars Program” that provides an integrated set of initiatives focused on attracting, engaging, and mentoring all incoming students from underrepresented backgrounds contemplating STEM majors. The program includes regular meetings to discuss STEM success strategies, opportunities the take a special research-based freshmen biology laboratory (“The Phage Lab”), scholarship to take Chemistry during the summer session, and paid fellowships to pursue summer research opportunities in William and Mary faculty laboratories.