U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has announced that $1,870,000 has been awarded to SUNY Old Westbury in the FY2023 spending bill recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The federal dollars Schumer fought for will help the College launch an inclusive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career preparatory center -- The Old Westbury STEM Center for Engagement, Entrepreneurship & Inclusion (OW-STEM) – to engage students from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM-related fields and set them on a trajectory towards successful STEM-oriented careers.
“SUNY Old Westbury is one of the most diverse colleges in America and has a long track record of success in preparing men and women to move into careers in the sciences,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to bring this $1.87 million to Old Westbury because it will kick start the school’s efforts to grow in this area so that more and more students can experience the power of STEM education, reap the benefits when they graduate, and contribute to the future green economy of Long Island.”
OW-STEM will feature cutting-edge, inquiry-based STEM pedagogy featuring work with complex data sets from active research efforts, a fully integrated learning community structure to provide a holistic and comprehensive educational experience, and a central focus on green jobs and the green economy to prepare students to answer the call for a growing number of professionals in fields like semiconductor chip manufacturing, wind power generation, data science and biotechnology.
“The awarding of these funds confirms SUNY Old Westbury is among the national leaders in STEM education, but what makes OW-STEM truly unique is its integration of STEM education, social justice and environmental sustainability,” said College President Timothy E. Sams. “The launch of OW-STEM will enable us to improve and accelerate opportunities for STEM leaders needed for the diverse, multicultural, globally conscious future that lies ahead of us.”
Assistant Provost for Research & Strategic Academic Initiatives Michael Kavic designed much of the structure of OW-STEM and will serve as the principal investigator for the program.
“OW-STEM will allow students who have traditionally been discouraged from and denied opportunities in the STEM-fields to engage in a transformational educational experience, leading to successful careers in areas of vital need,” said Dr. Kavic. “This will enable our entire region to tap the unrealized potential of numerous brilliant young minds that will enrich our society for years to come.”
Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as both a Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, SUNY Old Westbury has a historic commitment to serving students from underrepresented minorities in fields related to STEM. The foundation of the campus’ service in this area includes being engaged in groundbreaking STEM educational and career development programs like the statewide Collegiate Science and Technology and Entry Program (CSTEP) since its founding in 1988 and the SUNY The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Collaborative (LSAMP) since 1998.
From Fall 2017-Fall 2021, SUNY Old Westbury’s minorities in STEM-related undergraduate programs represented seven percent of the entire enrollment of students from those backgrounds across the 64-campus State University of New York system. For the same period, the College’s total undergraduate enrollment in STEM-related majors equated to less than three percent of the system’s enrollment overall.
Further, for the five-year period ending in 2020-2021, 44 percent of students graduating from STEM-related disciplines at Old Westbury were underrepresented minorities as compared to just more than 18 percent across SUNY.
During this same period, the number of undergraduate degree completions in STEM disciplines at SUNY Old Westbury represented 3.5 percent of students from underrepresented backgrounds graduating across the 64-campus SUNY system while the College’s total bachelor’s degree-completing population in these areas represented just more than one percent of STEM-related completers in the system.
For students with STEM interests, SUNY Old Westbury currently offers undergraduate degrees in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Bioinformatics, Biochemistry, Physics, Health and Society, Computer Information Sciences, Mathematics, and Management Information Systems as well as graduate degree in Data Science.