STEM Diversity Innovator: Dr. Cheryl Schrader, Named Missouri University of Science and Technology's New Chancellor, Focuses on Getting 'Underprepared' Students to Pursue STEM Paths

By Gray, Katti | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

STEM Diversity Innovator: Dr. Cheryl Schrader, Named Missouri University of Science and Technology's New Chancellor, Focuses on Getting 'Underprepared' Students to Pursue STEM Paths


Gray, Katti, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Even as a little girl, Dr. Cheryl Schrader was hypercurious, a tinkerer, plugging this into that and creating stuff that, in its way, functioned.

That precocious child morphed into a high school student enrolling in math and science courses that precisely primed her for college study and eventually a career in her chosen field, engineering.

To be sure, her early curiosity provided an academic advantage. It also imbued the kind of self-confidence not always evident among students arriving at Boise State University from, say, a rural Idaho high school with few, if any, properly credentialed math and science teachers. Schrader, Boise State's associate vice president for strategic research initiatives, has singularly aimed to show students of that ilk that science, technology, engineering and math--the STEM sector--are within their reach.

"What we've done is focus on the underprepared students, the students who don't come to us calculus-ready and didn't decide in fourth grade that this was what they were going to do in life," said Schrader, who on April 2 trades her Boise State post to become Missouri University of Science and Technology's chancellor, the first woman to helm that campus.

Once fully on board in Missouri, she said she'll start out listening, observing and trying to show the campus that she's intent on highlighting its attributes and contributions to the local community. "My overarching vision for Missouri University of Science and Technology," Schrader said, "is three-fold: To create and inspire a culture of innovation. To foster diversity in a global context. And to chart a bold plan advancing Missouri and the nation."

Her approach at Boise State has resulted in a 49 percent increase, since 2008, in the number of minorities enrolling in STEM studies and a 92 percent increase in the number of students from underrepresented groups earning STEM degrees, according to the university's data. With Schrader helping to lead the way, Boise State undergraduates have, where needed, been remediated in math and science. Starting in the freshmen year, they're involved in research projects usually reserved for people in graduate school. …

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