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Hendrix Awarded National Science Foundation S-STEM Grant

CONWAY, Ark. (December 20, 2017) – Hendrix College was recently awarded a five-year $650,000 Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant will provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships to academically talented Federal Pell Grant-eligible students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at Hendrix, covering all out-of-pocket expenses for four years. Additionally, scholarship recipients will be provided with summer stipends for three years of guaranteed research and internships, access to specialized mentoring, housing in specialized learning communities, field trips to regional and national laboratories, and opportunities to explore careers in all disciplines of the scientific enterprise.  

The five-year program will be available to two cohorts of 10 S-STEM Scholars who enter Hendrix in fall 2018 and fall 2019. STEM degrees available at Hendrix include: biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science, biochemistry and molecular biology, neuroscience, and chemical physics.

All Federal Pell Grant-eligible students who apply to Hendrix will be able to compete for an S-STEM scholarship. The College will further target students in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, including the Delta, the Arkansas River Valley, and other rural areas of Arkansas, who are first-generation college students, considered a racial and/or ethnic minority, or are from a family that has recently immigrated.

“This is a unique and valuable opportunity to welcome students from underrepresented backgrounds to Hendrix College,” said Hendrix biology professor Dr. Laura MacDonald, principal investigator for the S-STEM grant. “I am thrilled to be able to recruit outstanding students who will make a significant contribution to the campus community, and we are eager to support them through the programming facilitated by this grant. It also presents an opportunity to evaluate which practices are most important for student success. We are excited to work with the students to contribute to the research literature on best practices for retaining economically disadvantaged students in STEM. This NSF grant provides the financial resources necessary for critical collaboration between faculty and the STEM Scholars. I am looking forward to the partnerships, camaraderie, and shared vision for increasing accessibility to STEM disciplines that this program can bring with the students we will be able to support.” 

MacDonald added, “This grant was a team effort, and I am so excited to be working with this group of individuals on this project.” She collaborated on the grant with Hendrix colleagues Dr. Dionne Jackson (Diversity and Inclusion), Leigh Lassiter-Counts (Career Services), Dr. Matthew Moran (Biology), and Dr. Leslie Zorwick (Psychology). 

“I think the three years of paid summer research is particularly important,” said Dr. Moran. “This will allow students to get involved in real research throughout their undergraduate years, have close supervision from a Hendrix faculty member, and really learn the scientific process.”

“This grant is an incredible opportunity for Hendrix to increase the number of underrepresented students who major in STEM fields and to ensure their success at Hendrix and after graduation,” said Hendrix President Bill Tsutsui. 

The S-STEM program will build upon recent Hendrix initiatives to increase the diversity of the student body, Tsutsui said.

“One of the main priorities of our current strategic plan is to increase campus diversity at all levels,” he said. “The S-STEM program will help Hendrix reach, recruit, and retain low-income, Pell Grant-eligible, and often first-generation students who are underrepresented in STEM fields.”

The S-STEM grant also recognizes Hendrix’s role in educating STEM majors for Arkansas and the region. The percentage of Hendrix students who graduate with a major in one of the natural sciences is more than five times greater than the percentage of students earning degrees in the natural sciences in all Arkansas colleges and universities. According to the Baccalaureate Origins of Doctoral Recipients Peer Comparison Tool, Hendrix ranks high nationally for percentage of graduates completing a doctoral program in the sciences (first among all colleges and universities in America in psychology, eighth in chemistry, 24th in physical science, and 37th in life sciences).  

Hendrix has a 63.6 percent four-year and 68 percent six-year graduation rate, 23 percent higher than the national average for all institutions and 10 percent higher than the average for private colleges and universities. Hendrix has the highest retention rates of any college in Arkansas.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit