STEM Initiative Builds on 30 Years of Empowering Students

Dartmouth STEM Initiative infographic

5 minute read

James Bressor

Giving Science and Innovation

The Dartmouth STEM Initiative, a bold $100 million initiative that will bring greater diversity to science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines, is leveraging multiple programs that have already positioned Dartmouth as a higher education leader in preparing students for fulfilling careers and lives of impact. 

When the initiative is fully realized, Dartmouth’s comprehensive suite of STEM programs will be coordinated across departments and schools and will demonstrate the institution’s leadership in creating an unprecedented, systemic approach to increasing diversity in STEM professions.

 

Built on the success of six programs 

Just as The Call to Lead has doubled down on Dartmouth’s strengths, the Dartmouth STEM initiative builds on more than 30 years of ambitious initiatives that have grown the numbers of historically underrepresented populations in STEM majors. Six existing programs already opening the STEM pipeline will come under the Dartmouth STEM Initiative umbrella. 

 

E.E. Just Program 

Named after Ernest Everett Just, a pioneering African American cell biologist, 1907 Dartmouth graduate, and Phi Beta Kappa member, the E.E. JUST PROGRAM helps create a Dartmouth STEM ecosystem in which racially minoritized students, faculty, and staff can thrive. The program provides opportunities for intellectual engagement and professional development within a supportive sphere of Dartmouth scientists invested in each other’s mutual success.

“Roughly the same percentage of students from across all demographic backgrounds enter Dartmouth with an interest in pursuing a STEM major. Where we’ve seen a difference is the percentage of students who end up majoring in these disciplines. Among other things, the E.E. Just Program provides a model for closing this gap that is rooted in a growth mindset and a tight-knit community of undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and faculty who see each other as intellectual partners.”
- Craig Sutton
    Associate Professor of Mathematics, Program Director

Women In Science Project

Dartmouth’s WOMEN IN SCIENCE PROJECT (WISP) supports undergraduate women, especially first-year students, so they can thrive in STEM fields through mentoring, research, internships, and community-building. WISP includes a peer mentor program that pairs first-year students with older undergraduates who share advice on how to conduct research, network, and apply to graduate or professional schools. 

“Although we’re well known for the internship program, the heart of WISP is the community that we build for women in the sciences,” says WISP Director Morgan Hamilton. “We make sure to offer opportunities for this community to grow and to recruit women who have encountered barriers to STEM fields previously. There are many reasons why women don’t get into these fields, and studies have shown that the earlier the intervention the more likely it is for them to remain in the STEM pipeline.”

Dartmouth Emerging Engineers

DARTMOUTH EMERGING ENGINEERS (DEE) strives to improve the experience of first-year students interested in engineering. Through tutoring and mentoring support, DEE students gain a solid academic foundation and the peer connections they need to successfully navigate engineering and STEM courses beyond the first year. DEE offers group study sessions, faculty advising, experienced teaching assistants, and events for students to meet engineering faculty from Dartmouth and around the world. 

“Data shows that our students are much better positioned for engineering success when we also provide context and real-life applications with the foundational math and physics required of all aspiring majors,” says Professor Petra Bonfert-Taylor, Thayer School of Engineering’s associate dean for diversity and inclusion. “We’re working on a new pathway that introduces engineering applications earlier in the curriculum to better integrate hands-on learning in prerequisite courses and help students connect the math and physics to the creative, problem-solving aspects of engineering from the beginning.”

Health Professions Program 

The HEALTH PROFESSIONS PROGRAM (HPP) empowers Dartmouth undergraduates and alumni interested in pursuing careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and other health professions. HPP is part of Dartmouth’s Student Affairs, and often collaborates with many stakeholders, including the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and alumni in health care. HPP serves Dartmouth’s large and diverse cohort of pre-health students. Its Pathways to Medicine Scholars Program in particular supports students from underrepresented backgrounds with direct exposure to experts and mentors in clinical and public health. 

“Preparing for med school is complex. It’s a four-plus-year process that is academic, scholarly, experiential, and involves in-depth personal, professional, and intellectual growth,” says Sarah Berger, assistant dean of pre-health advising. “HPP helps students navigate those moving parts over four-plus years, and then supports them through the application process in the end. Students tells us that our office reduces their stress by helping them understand each step they need to take.”

First-Year Summer Enrichment Program 

Dartmouth’s FIRST-YEAR SUMMER ENRICHMENT PROGRAM (FYSEP) welcomes approximately 90 incoming first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students for a four-week pre-orientation session, including sample classes along with a plethora of resources to address challenges—academic, cocurricular, and social—that students face. In addition to mentorship from more senior undergraduates, FYSEP students are invited to explore on-campus resources that will support them while at Dartmouth. Together, FYSEP and the First-Generation Office provide critical advising, mentorship, and resources to empower FGLI students and enable them to thrive during their undergraduate careers.

“Students attending the four-week program are much better prepared for the academic experience at Dartmouth. They have a belief that they belong here, that they can be confident here, and that Dartmouth is better because they are here.”
- Jay Davis
    FYSEP Director

Undergraduate Advising and Research

UNDERGRADUATE ADVISING AND RESEARCH (UGAR) provides more than 700 students each year with opportunities to partner on research projects with faculty mentors across all disciplines and supports faculty advisors who help students navigate learning experiences inside and outside the classroom. Other elements of UGAR’s mission include the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, which encourages students from underrepresented groups to pursue a doctorate. 

“We want students to understand that research is not simply a gateway to graduate school or becoming an academic,” says Margaret Funnell, director of undergraduate advising and research. “It’s an opportunity to expand their intellectual journey, to dig deeper into their major, to learn how knowledge is constructed, to follow their passion, and to not worry about the grade at the end, but instead just understand the excitement of conducting research.” 

The Dartmouth STEM Initiative is the latest in a series of priorities funded through The Call to Lead campaign that have expanded and elevated how Dartmouth students learn in STEM disciplines. These historic investments include recruitment of additional faculty in computer science and engineering, establishment of several STEM-focused interdisciplinary academic clusters, and creation of the West End district, which features the Class of 1982 Engineering and Computer Science Center, the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. 

Combined, these investments have heightened Dartmouth’s distinctive standing as an institution that combines the best of the liberal arts college experience with the cutting-edge learning opportunities of a national research university.