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Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:40 PM


VAN HEES, Edmond H., Dept. of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, LEMKE, Lawrence D., Department of Geology, Wayne State University, 0224 Old Main, 4841 Cass, Detroit, MI 48202 and KASHIAN, Dan M., Dept. of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, 1360 Biological Sciences Bldg, Detroit, MI 48201,

Increased diversity in the science and engineering workforces is supported by increased diversity in STEM undergraduate and graduate degree granting programs. Clearly, successful recruiting and retention strategies for underrepresented minority student populations are needed to supply the demand for an increasingly diverse geoscience workforce. At Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, a multifaceted recruiting and retention program for Geology and Environmental Science students was instituted in conjunction with the establishment of a new B.S. in Environmental Science degree program in the Fall of 2003. Since then, the number of undergraduate Geology majors at WSU has risen from 11 to 30 and the number of Env Sci majors has grown to more than 50. During the same period, 27 students received Bachelors degrees in Geology (including 14 female and 2 minority students) and 26 students earned their B.S. in Environmental Science (including 12 female and 5 minority students). Currently, 49% of enrolled undergraduate majors are female and 23% and 21% of the Geology and Env Sci students, respectively, are minorities (predominantly African-American).

Our recruiting and retention efforts rely upon a combination of methods to inform potential students of career opportunities in Geology and Environmental Science and to help them picture themselves as Earth scientists. These include web pages, bulletin boards, classroom presentations in Intro classes, annual career nights, and personal invitations to students who demonstrate an aptitude for geoscience. Retention efforts focus on building a supportive learning community by organizing frequent field trips, holding social events, providing supplemental instruction, and encouraging undergraduate research. Our experience suggests that providing individual attention is one of the most important keys to successful recruitment and retention for all students. To enhance diversity, we strive to perpetually exceed a critical mass (~15%) that other researchers have suggested effects a qualitative improvement of learning and social conditions for underrepresented student groups. Our ultimate goal is to recruit underrepresented minority students in proportion to the overall population at Wayne State, which is ~34% of 20,766 undergraduate students in Fall 2009.

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