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STEM Summit Touted as ‘Huge Success’

Image associated with the STEM Summit Touted as ‘Huge Success’ news item

Author: Lois G. Russell

Release Date: Mar 15, 2016

Leaders of more than 30 HBCUs are leaving Montgomery energized and excited about future collaborations in advancing STEM opportunities, thanks to a three-day STEM summit hosted by Alabama State University.

For Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd, the past three days have brought the fulfillment of one of her dreams. As a veteran engineer, Boyd has a passion for promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, especially at institutions such as her beloved alma mater, Alabama State University.

The HBCU Presidents’ Summit on STEM, which was hosted by ASU March 13-15, proved to be the perfect venue for strategic discussions about STEM initiatives and collaborations.

“I think that the summit was a huge success for all of the participants, and even for the presenters, the speakers, the moderators—all those who were involved in any way tangentially or even immediately felt that it was a tremendous success,” said Boyd. “Bringing together the leadership of our HBCUs to help understand and walk through the issues of promoting STEM opportunities for our students was just an important agenda item for all of us.”

Leaders of more than 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) journeyed to Montgomery, Ala., to participate in the inaugural STEM Summit.

Boyd said one of the key outcomes of the summit was the opportunity for future collaborations.

“The dialogue was tremendous,” said Boyd. “The discussion points were great, as each of our speakers motivated, chided, encouraged and inspired us to do more on our campuses. We also talked about collaborating more so that the schools that were represented would have greater opportunities to partner and go after large grants, and more importantly, large contracts. The more people who are working together on the project increases the project’s chances of success because you have the diversity of mind and thought, and a diversity of campuses and skill sets. This summit provided initial opportunities for leaders of institutions to learn about each other’s capabilities and to begin discussions about future partnerships. So, I think in all those areas and more, it was a tremendous success.”

Dr. Juliette Bell, president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, spoke about the need for continued collaborations among the nation’s HBCUs.

“It was very beneficial having the variety of individuals in the room talking to each other,” said Bell. “It was a great opportunity for networking and learning about different opportunities, especially as it relates to federal agencies and the corporate agencies as well. (As leaders) we spend a lot of time doing things, but having the time to just stop for awhile and delve a little deeper into the opportunities that are out there and hearing about how we can work together to take advantage of these opportunities has been beneficial.”
Boyd said the summit also produced some practical ideas such as forming a website through which institutions could continue discussions about relevant topics and seek partners for specific grants and contract opportunities. The leaders also discussed increasing study abroad opportunities for students, as well as the need for “reaching back” to high schools and middle schools to cultivate interest in STEM.

The Summit was funded through a grant awarded to ASU by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The National Science Foundation has been investing in education since the agency was created by an act of Congress in 1950,” said Dr. Sylvia James, director of human resource development for the National Science Foundation. “We recognize that it is critical for the future of our country that we have a workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that reflects the diversity of the nation. As part of that, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program…has a number of programs or tracks…which enable HBCUs to strengthen their faculty, their students, the curriculum within the undergraduate STEM program and ensure that these students are well prepared to enter the STEM workforce.”

Boyd and other summit participants expressed gratitude to the NSF for making the event possible.

“The summit would not have been possible without the funding and support of the National Science Foundation and specifically Dr. Claudia Rankins. Dr. Rankins received our request and proposal with enthusiasm and said that this is an important idea that needed to happen. So, we want to thank her and the National Science Foundation for funding the event. We want to thank our local sponsors who provided sponsorships for luncheons or dinner events: Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood; the Alabama National Guard, Alabama Power and Boeing. We thank them for believing in the idea and for being event sponsors to help make it a successful event. And last but not least, we thank all of those presidents and provosts who took the time from their busy schedules to spend three days here in Montgomery, Alabama, on the campus of Alabama State University to bring life to this very important topic,” Boyd added.

For photos, additional articles and other highlights of the 2016 HBCU Presidents’ Summit on STEM, visit



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