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Bethlehem, Pa., March 4 , 2011--Moravian College has been awarded a major grant to fund a new scholarship program that will benefit area residents and community colleges.
The $598,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will fund the Moravian College Scholars in Mathematics and Computer Science Program, allowing a total of 24 community college transfer students to complete a bachelor's degree in mathematics or computer science at Moravian. The students will be awarded scholarships of $10,000 annually for two years (four semesters) and $5,000 for a fifth semester, if necessary to complete their degree. Six scholarships are available per year for four years; recipients will be selected based on both academic ability and financial need.
"The program will make a quality liberal arts education, such as Moravian's, affordable to more students by allowing us to help those who choose to start with community college," said Nathan Shank, assistant professor of mathematics and a faculty co-director of the program. "Few other NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) support transfer students."
"I am delighted that Moravian is the recipient of this grant," said Christopher M. Thomforde, president of Moravian College. "Our faculty members are responding creatively to the needs of area students to build a foundation for their future success."
Participating community colleges include Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), Northampton Community College (NCC), Bucks CCC, County College of Morris, Harrisburg Area CC, Montgomery CCC, Warren CCC, and Sussex CCC.
For math and computer science majors at NCC, which awards its own two-year STEM scholarships, the Moravian transfer program will offer the possibility of four years of scholarship funding. "NCC is working hard to help more women and minorities get into the fields of math and computer science," said Dennis Ebersole, a professor of math and computer science at NCC. "The partnership with Moravian will be a great recruiting tool for us."
"New scholarship opportunities, such as this, could not come at a better time for community college transfer students, particularly in light of the economy and the high demand for trained mathematicians and computer scientists," commented Ginny Mihalik, LCCC transfer counselor and professor. "Students also will benefit from working closely with Moravian faculty members to do research and from taking courses with other transfer students, bridging the transition to the four-year college program."
The program aims to increase the likelihood of student success by creating a support system that includes shared housing, a common initial course, and ongoing faculty mentoring. Students who receive the award will come to Moravian the summer before their first semester to take a required mathematics class and participate in a research program with math and computer science faculty. The students then will present their research at a fall conference designed to promote math and computer science to area K-12 students, potentially increasing interest in these fields.
"We want more students to have the opportunity to do undergraduate research, so this program is fantastic," said Ebersole of NCC. "Our students are very excited about it."
After the summer introductory course, students will take three courses their first full semester at Moravian and four courses per semester thereafter. The optional fifth semester allows transfers to take additional courses, if necessary, to satisfy Moravian curriculum requirements. In addition to receiving faculty mentoring, students will be supported by peer mentoring, career education, internship opportunities, and additional summer research opportunities.
"Flexible academic programming, hands-on research opportunities, and faculty mentorship define Moravian, and these advantages helped us stand out to the NSF," noted Matthew Lang, assistant professor of computer science and faculty program co-director with Dr. Shank.
"The community aspect also was important," added Shank. "Moravian already is doing this well through the HILL (Hurd Integrated Living and Learning) complex, SOAR (Student Opportunities for Academic Research) program, and departmental activities. This project was a perfect fit."
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly. Visit the NSF homepage at http://www.nsf.gov.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.