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Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Renews University of South Florida University Center of Exemplary Mentoring

The University of South Florida is celebrating a significant achievement with the renewal of its University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) grant to the College of Engineering and the College of Marine Science by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Managed by the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), the award provides an additional $630,000 over the next three years for a total of nearly $4 million from the Sloan Foundation to USF in support of minority doctoral education since 2005. USF is the only university in Florida to receive this distinction, and the only non-AAU institution, joining Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, MIT, UC-San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Iowa.

The UCEM grant will continue under the direction of Jose Zayas-Castro, Professor and Executive Associate Dean in the College of Engineering; Frank Muller-Karger, Professor of Biological Oceanography in the College of Marine Science; and will be managed by Bernard Batson, Director of Diversity Programs at the College of Engineering. An expanded Faculty Coordinating Committee from both Colleges will guide the programmatic activities. Additional leadership and advocacy will be provided by Dean Robert H. Bishop of the College of Engineering, Dean Jacqueline Dixon of the College of Marine Science, and the USF Office of Graduate Studies (OGS).

"Over the past four years, USF faculty have received $4 million in research grants from the Sloan Foundation and NSF to maintain our momentum in fostering greater diversity in STEM doctoral programs," according to Zayas-Castro, principal investigator of the UCEM award. "We envision the Center will help institutionalize these gains, while catalyzing new faculty mentoring and graduate student success initiatives for the entire University," says Zayas-Castro. According to Co-Principal Investigator Muller-Karger, "the UCEM grant prepares minority student into scientific leaders. They will be prepared to address the many challenges our country faces in dealing with living and non-living marine resources. They will measure life in the ocean, and study the physics, chemistry and geology of the sea. Ultimately, the UCEM is important to help our university and the science workforce be more diverse and look like our communities."

After a competitive review process, the Sloan Foundation awarded the UCEM renewal. They examined the USF record of accomplishment. USF graduates nearly 90 percent of Sloan minority doctoral scholars in engineering and marine science. The University is committed to making the institutional changes that support both graduate student and faculty diversity in all STEM graduate departments. Key metrics will include doctoral student recruitment, faculty outreach to minority serving institutions, implementation of a multi-dimensional mentoring model (MDM) for scholars, a new professional development certificate program to help PhD students develop "soft skills" for diverse career paths, and increased fundraising initiatives to ensure sustainability of the UCEM.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation University Center of Exemplary Mentoring

The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System is comprised of three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is ranked in the Top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as "Emerging Preeminent," placing USF in an elite category among the state's 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.