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University of Idaho Receives $1.15 Million Grant to Make Graduate School More Accessible

March 26, 2018

Some University of Idaho students will soon qualify for funding to complete their undergraduate degrees, expand their ways of thinking, and prepare for graduate school thanks to a $1.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

The grant, awarded to the university's College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and funded by the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, is one of eight DOE programs designed to advance the academic careers of students from underrepresented segments of society, particularly those with strong academic potential coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Approximately 125 University of Idaho students will benefit from the five-year grant. During each of these years, $231,000 in funding will be awarded to 25 students, commonly known as McNair scholars.

"This outstanding program, part of the federal TRIO programs, provides critical resources for students who have strong academic potential but come from disadvantaged backgrounds," said Janet E. Nelson, U of I's Vice President for Research and Economic Development. "This national program will go far in helping these students realize their academic goals at the University of Idaho."
The goal of the McNair program: provide financial support, as well as educational and cultural enrichment to help junior- and senior-level students attain graduate degrees in their chosen area of study, preferably at the Ph.D. level.

To achieve this goal, student awardees will receive a wide range of financial and educational support over two years. McNair scholars will receive stipends for room and board, instructional supplies, admission fees and a research project under the guidance of U of I faculty. In addition, these recipients will be sent to educational, professional and cultural enrichment events related to their academic fields of study.

The scholars will also receive intensive services from the College of Graduate Studies, such as mentoring and advising in navigating the graduate school admission process with the expectation that they will advance directly into postbaccalaureate work immediately after graduating from the U of I.

While the program is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focused, there is no restriction to the McNair scholar's chosen area of study.

Another central tenet of the McNair grant is to expose scholars to alternate conceptual frameworks of research. The University of Idaho's College of Education chose an Indigenous research paradigm, one of the many factors that helped the university achieve a perfect score during the grant evaluation process.

"During the course of their studies, the McNair scholars will be exploring a non-western approach to doing research--in this case, an Indigenous research paradigm," said Scott Clyde, principal investigator for the grant and Director of the TRIO-INSPIRE college access programs.

"Typically students are deeply rooted in traditional or western approaches to research, so the opportunity train in a non-western research paradigm will expose scholars to the notion that there are other ways of observing and knowing the world around them. This will make them more sophisticated researchers regardless of the research methodologies they ultimately choose to use," said Clyde.

"I'm so pleased to see another successful proposal to change the lives of so many students coming from Dr. Clyde and the TRIO group," said Ali Carr-Chellman, dean of College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. "I know this project will complement the other TRIO programs in EHHS and we are excited to see the impact of the indigenous approach that this work is taking. We are very excited to be among the few selected universities for McNair programming and look forward to welcoming more McNair scholars to our college."

Most recently, a total of 187 McNair grants were awarded to colleges and universities across the United States, benefitting more than 5,200 students.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at