Friday November 21, 2008

Choose Ohio First

A new higher education partnership of eight institutions in the region will offer nearly $4 million in grants to students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The University of Dayton has joined with seven other schools in the region to make Choose Ohio First scholarships totaling nearly $4 million available to graduating high school seniors and current college students interested in pursuing careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The Dayton Regional Collaborative is led by Wright State University and includes Central State University, Wittenberg University, Clark State Community College, Edison Community College, Sinclair Community College, Southern State Community College, along with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and 450 external for-profit and not-for-profit partners.

The schools will share $3.941 million in Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program funds awarded by the state for its proposal, "Growing the STEMM Pipeline in the Dayton Region — Becoming an International Center of Excellence for Human Effectiveness/Human Performance."

For the 2009-10 school year, the University of Dayton expects to award 32 undergraduate and graduate scholarships valued at $4,700 through the Choose Ohio First program. Eligible students who apply to the University of Dayton and plan to pursue a major in an applicable STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine) discipline will be automatically considered for the Choose Ohio First scholarship.

The regional scholarships are multi-year renewable scholarships, dependent on the student's full- or part-time status and an overall GPA of 3.0 or above.

Part of the Ohio Innovation Partnership created by the Ohio General Assembly, the Choose Ohio First scholarship program is designed to assist Ohio's higher education institutions in building the talent and research pipelines critical to the state's economic development.

Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio General Assembly have invested more than $250 million to remake Ohio's economy through collaborative programs in higher education, particularly in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, known as STEMM.

"There's nothing more crucial to our economic future than investing in the people of Ohio," said Governor Strickland. "The Choose Ohio First scholarship program is part of the investment we are making to attract and retain students in the vital areas of science and technology."

The competitive Choose Ohio First awards are based on collaborations between colleges, universities and their Ohio business and industry partners that will have the most impact on advancing Ohio's position in the world markets including aerospace, medicine, computer technology and alternative energy, according to the Ohio Board of Regents.

"Choose Ohio First scholarships will make STEMM opportunities more affordable and accessible for young people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. The grants represent a significant opportunity for both public institutions and private institutions such as the University of Dayton to enhance Ohio's capacity to prepare young people for challenging and rewarding futures that contribute to the betterment of society in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine," said Malcolm Daniels, interim dean of the University of Dayton's School of Engineering.

By 2011, more than 1,200 jobs in the areas of human effectiveness/performance, sensors and information technology will be relocated to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a result of the 2005 Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). The Dayton Regional Collaborative, recognizing the region's need for a STEMM-educated workforce to fill those significant needs, requested the Choose Ohio First funding to award scholarships in these areas.

"In the coming years, the Dayton region will need thousands of new employees to fill these and other anticipated openings in the STEMM fields, including aerospace, information technology, advanced materials and manufacturing, and human sciences and health care," said David R. Hopkins, president of Wright State University. "Investing in people is crucial for our future success. These Choose Ohio First scholarships for students in STEMM disciplines represent higher education's contribution to the future of Ohio."

The proposal, submitted by the Dayton Regional Collaborative, was reviewed by a national panel of STEMM and STEMM education experts in the higher education field. The experts, empanelled by Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, recommended nine of 16 submitted proposals for this round of funding. The selected proposals not only identified a commitment to outstanding programs but also met the rigid House Bill 119 guidelines that focus on STEMM recruitment and retention as they relate to building Ohio's new economy.

The Dayton Regional Collaborative plans to:

  • Offer approximately 1,000 scholarships through the eight institutions ranging from $1,500 to $4,700.
  • Increase enrollment in STEMM disciplines by a minimum of 10 percent, producing a net additional 335 graduates per year in the targeted STEMM disciplines.
  • Form a Dayton Area Undergraduate Studies Institute to employ a curriculum-sharing model so the STEMM scholarship recipients have access to all institutions' program strengths.
  • Develop and implement new "inquiry-based" curriculum strategies to attract, retain, prepare and yield a diverse pool of STEMM graduates.
  • Provide undergraduate research, co-op and undergraduate internship opportunities to ensure graduates' employment and keep them in the state of Ohio.

Stressing collaboration over competition, Chancellor Fingerhut emphasized the need for Ohio to regain its prominent role in the areas of scholarship and research. To help reach that goal, the University System of Ohio's 10-year strategic plan for higher education calls for a 110 percent increase in bachelor's degrees in STEMM disciplines by 2017. Increasing the production of these high-demand degrees is a top priority of the state's business community. Many of the nearly 500 partners in the Dayton Regional Collaborative from government, industry and health care agreed to create meaningful undergraduate research, co-op and undergraduate internship positions for the Choose Ohio First scholars

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