McNair Scholars source of great pride for UO

May 26th, 2010

In my recent investiture speech I spoke of the many reasons we can be proud to celebrate the University of Oregon – 22,000 reasons – our students.

About a week prior to that, I had the opportunity to meet with some of our students who come from backgrounds that represent non-traditional and under-represented portions of our community. These students were McNair Scholars, selected for their aptitude and interest in continuing their academic goals past a bachelor degree.

The scholarship is named after Ronald E. McNair, an African-American astronaut killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.

With the guidance of faculty mentors, these students work for two or three years on research projects that prepare them for the in-depth research necessary to earn a Ph.D.

These students are worthy of celebration because they assure us that the rich diversity of our society and world will be represented by students and faculty at our universities and colleges. Their faculty mentors also are worthy of celebration, as their dedication makes these students’ achievements possible.

About sixty percent of UO McNair Scholars pursue post-baccalaureate education, a rate that exceeds that of the general UO student population. With this record, and with the enthusiasm and commitment I saw from the McNair Scholars I met, I know that opportunities for academic leadership will be in good hands – University of Oregon hands.

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