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UMET meets UCAR: A story of institutional mentoring

If students can have mentors to advise, guide, or open doorways for them, why can't a college that is hoping to grow? That is the reasoning behind a groundbreaking initiative from NSF in which UCAR is playing mentor to Universidad Metropolitana in Puerto Rico. It is an association that is developing rapidly, with a great deal of enthusiasm on both sides.

The UCAR-UMET connection is part of the Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) program. The program seeks to increase the numbers of advanced degrees awarded to underrepresented groups in the areas of science, engineering, and mathematics. NSF, in partnership with NASA, has chosen six colleges and universities to become model institutions. Although the chosen universities are very different in their populations and in their locations, they share the same vision: to bring quality education to the people they serve.

One of the main goals of the MIE program is to bolster education by institutionalizing the changes the program brings. A second goal is to encourage replication among similar institutions in the United States to revitalize U.S. education and prepare for the technological challenges of the next century. Each MIE institution signed a cooperative agreement for up to $2.5 million a year for up to 11 years. The project is considered a cooperative effort since each school's proposal will be reviewed on a yearly basis and funding will be awarded in accordance with the fulfillment of the proposal.

This is where UCAR plays an important role as a mentor and a partner for UMET. Last November, at the invitation of NSF and its Geosciences Directorate, representatives of UCAR visited UMET to hear about its MIE program and ways UCAR could help achieve its ambitious goals.

UMET is a private, 15-year-old institution on the outskirts of San Juan with a faculty of over 150 and 4,500 students, 850 of whom are science students. Under the MIE program, UMET will develop a model program that affords Latino and disadvantaged science and math students a "secure pathway" from precollege through the undergraduate-to-graduate transition. Their strategy includes:

UCAR's partnership with UMET is well under way. UMET's MIE principal investigator Fernando Diaz, coprincipal investigator Margarita Irizarry, and other faculty have been provided with literally piles of information on the resources available through UCAR and samples of educational and other materials.

"We at UMET are very enthusiastic about our relationship with UCAR," says Irizarry, a professor of cell biology. "Since our partnership began we have initiated curriculum revisions in the areas of atmospheric research and meteorology. Also, students have received orientation for the summer research programs available at UCAR, and we hope that at least a couple of them are selected. We are currently developing areas of research in tropical atmospheric dynamics with UCAR's aid."

UMET has also joined the ranks of UCAR Academic Affiliates (see accompanying article). Other possibilities that are emerging are having UMET students apply for the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science program (see the Fall UCAR Quarterly); or UMET using COMET educational modules--possibly adapted for them--in introductory meteorology classes or participating in classroom evaluations of the new Global Change Instruction Program modules. Over the next five years the possibilities are endless. For further information, contact Cynthia Schmidt (303-497-2107 or cschmidt@ucar.edu) or William Pennell (303-497-8655 or pennell@ucar.edu).


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Edited by Carol Rasmussen, carolr@ucar.edu
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Last revised: Tue Apr 4 09:13:34 MDT 2000