Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Awarded McNair Postbaccalaureate Grant


Texas Tech University has been named a recipient of a five-year, $1,161,325 grant from the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, one of eight educational opportunity programs within the U.S. Department of Education's Federal TRIO Programs. The grant, named after the NASA astronaut killed in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy, is awarded to higher education institutions through a competitive process and will be administered at Texas Tech by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DDEI). 

“It's an honor to be awarded this prestigious and nationally recognized grant,” said Elizabeth Sharp, interim vice president of DDEI. “Because the McNair grant is focused on undergraduate students' engagement with research opportunities, this grant will positively affect new and current research ongoing at Texas Tech University.”

Each year of the grant, the Texas Tech McNair Postbaccalaureate Project will support a cohort of 25 eligible students from underrepresented and underserved groups who, through involvement in research and other scholarly activities, have demonstrated strong academic potential for doctoral studies. The program at Texas Tech also will provide education and counseling services designed to improve financial literacy of students, including financial planning for graduate school; mentoring programs involving faculty members and exposure to cultural events; and academic programs not usually available to these students. 

“Funding from the McNair Program will provide support to Red Raiders who have demonstrated the desire and ability to pursue research and an advanced degree,” President Lawrence Schovanec said. “A significant benefit of this program is the opportunity it provides to students who have traditionally been underrepresented among students who seek a post-baccalaureate degree.”

 This is not the first time Texas Tech has been awarded the grant. The university also received program funding from 1995-2000 and 2003-2008. Sharp said the grant provides services and support to students who might not pursue doctoral degrees otherwise. 

“Most of the programs and initiatives funded by the grant involve opportunities for research that can lead to graduate school enrollment,” Sharp said. “As a recipient of the McNair grant, Texas Tech is recognized as an institution of higher education that has a high percentage of eligible McNair scholars and that has submitted a viable plan and budget for preparing low-income, first generation college students and students from underrepresented groups for post-graduate study and doctoral degree attainment.”

DDEI submitted an application for the grant identifying four objectives within these requirements for the Texas Tech McNair project: participants' completion of research or scholarly activities, participants' graduate enrollment, participants' continued enrollment in graduate school and participants' attainment of a doctoral degree.

“Graduate education is essential to American innovation and to meeting the workforce demands of a knowledge-based economy,” said Mark Sheridan, dean of the Texas Tech Graduate School. “The McNair Program will play a major role in expanding participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds in graduate study and research by broadening students' visions of career options and by providing them with essential research and other professional skills that increase their competitiveness.”

The Department of Education requires all McNair projects provide “opportunities for research or other scholarly activities; summer internships; seminars and other educational activities designed to prepare students for doctoral study; tutoring; academic counseling; and activities designed to assist students participating in the project in securing admission to and financial assistance for enrollment in graduate programs.”