3/10/11

New Scholarship Program Benefits Community College Transfers to Moravian

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 (NSF) 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.

Professors Nathan Shank (mathematics; shown in photo) and Matthew Lang (computer science) worked with Sue Schamberger, director of foundation relations, to apply for and obtain the grant. "I am delighted that Moravian is the recipient of this grant," said President Christopher M. Thomforde. "Our faculty members are responding creatively to the needs of area students to build a foundation for their future success." 

Few other NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) support transfer students. 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.

A Model for Other Academic Scholarship Programs

"The program uses a cohort building model (shared housing, a common initial course and ongoing faculty mentoring) and a summer transition program to increase the likelihood of student success," noted Schamberger. "If successful, both models could be applied to other transfer student groups or traditional students within a division or major." 


"Flexible academic programming, hands-on research, and faculty mentorship define Moravian, and these advantages helped us stand out to the National Science Foundation."


Students who receive the award will attend Moravian the summer before their first semester to take a required math class and work with faculty on a research project. Students 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.

 "Flexible academic programming, hands-on research opportunities, and faculty mentorship define Moravian, and these advantages helped us stand out to the NSF," noted Lang, faculty program co-director with 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 for us."

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.