Donnelly College awarded major National Science Foundation grant

Monsignor Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College. Photo courtesy Donnelly College

Monsignor Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College. Photo courtesy Donnelly College

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Donnelly College announced at an April 17 press conference that it will receive federal funding for Project S4, providing scholarships for nearly 60 students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

The National Science Foundation (NSF)’s S-STEM program awarded the college $619,800 for Project S4 (Scholarships and Supports for STEM Success). The grant will provide scholarships for students pursuing majors in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The grant will help recruit, retain and graduate students working toward a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems or an Associate of Science Degree in Biological or Physical Science.

In addition to scholarships for both Associate Degrees in Physical and Biological Sciences and the Bachelor›s Degree in Information Systems, the project also will enrich student experiences in these programs with STEM-related service learning, job shadowing, internships and conference travel for students. Initial industry collaborations for Project S4 include Cerner, Burns and McDonnell, Connecting for Good and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland, President of Donnelly College, who majored in physics as an undergraduate at the United States Naval Academy, was excited by the news.

“A majority of Donnelly College students come from families with incomes less than $18,000 per year,” he said. “A majority also come from minority ethnic groups in our society. Historically, these students are underrepresented in higher education and leadership, especially in the STEM areas. We hope the grant will help us aid our students to overcome this historical injustice.”

Donnelly College, located in Kansas City, Kan., is an independent, coeducational, Catholic institution founded by the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Donnelly was established in 1949 to meet the needs of urban immigrants and the working class, with special focus on “those who might not otherwise be served.” Today, Donnelly continues that tradition by providing access and affordable education within a culture that promotes student success, and serves as the region’s only federally designated Minority Serving Institution and Hispanic Serving Institution. Through a strong general education curriculum integrated with career-oriented majors, Donnelly offers programs leading to bachelor and associate degrees and certificates.

NSF funding for Project S4 began April 15 and will continue to aid Donnelly students and administration for five years. In administering Project S4, College representatives will create a dedicated learning community for STEM students. The effect of two required, linked professional experiences (service learning and job shadowing or an internship) will be tested.

Superintendent of the Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and Donnelly Board member Dr. Kathy O’Hara expressed her support of the College. “I know as an educator that it is a tremendous honor for any institution to receive the prestigious and difficult to obtain NSF grant, and for Donnelly College to receive it says quite a bit about the quality of staff and the education the College provides,” she said, “which will have a lasting positive impact on the community.”

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October 21, 2016
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph