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May 11, 2007

HACU praises passage of HR 1867 National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - For the first time, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) have been prominently included in the National Science Foundation (NSF) reauthorization bill for 2007.

The NSF Reauthorization bill (HR 1867), passed by the House on May 2, 2007, includes language that authorizes NSF to establish a new program to award grants to HSIs to enhance the quality of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology education at HSIs and to increase the retention and graduation rates of students pursuing associate or baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

Representatives McNerney (D-CA), Giffords (D-AZ) and Crowley (D-NY) were the major sponsors of the amendment.

In addition, Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced legislative language that directs the NSF to enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences for a report to be transmitted to Congress that will identify barriers impeding minorities from entering the STEM areas and outlining new initiatives for increasing their participation in STEM areas.

HR 1867 directs NSF to report to Congress on how the nation’s higher education system will prepare minority students attending Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) to become the STEM leaders for the nation’s science and technology efforts.  The report will also address the role of MSIs in the diversification of America’s workforce in these fields and how that role can be supported and strengthened. Minorities are slated to constitute 50% of the nation’s college-age population and will be expected to fill the jobs being vacated by the baby boomers. Without the preparation of minorities in the STEM areas, the nation risks losing its pre-eminence in areas of vital importance to the welfare and security of America. 

For decades the U.S. has led the world in research leading to discoveries of medicines and drugs to eradicate some of the globe’s fatal diseases, innovations to improve our public health, technologies to protect our environment and create new energy sources.  Without greater involvement of NSF in training new STEM professionals, the nation will cease being the world’s leader in scientific and technological advancements.