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About the McNair Program

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TRIO programs were created by the U.S Department of Education to help underrepresented students continue their education. Specifically, the goal of the McNair program is to level the playing field in graduate studies for underrepresented students of society.

Vision

The TRIO Ronald E McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is a graduate school preparatory program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored by UW-Eau Claire. Named after American astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair, the McNair program aims at leveling the playing field in graduate education and diversify the American research community by class, socio-economic status, and ethnicity. Nationally there are 158 McNair programs working with over 4,400 students. The TRIO McNair Program was founded in 1989 and initiated at UW-Eau Claire in 2000. The goal of the McNair Program is to increase attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society, including first-generation low-income individuals and members from racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in graduate programs. At UW- Eau Claire, we prefer working with scholars who are ambitious about entering graduate school immediately after graduating from UWEC. Our hope is that eventually our scholars will go on to earn a Master's degree and ultimately, a doctoral degree. 


 

Purpose

The purpose of the McNair program at UW-Eau Claire is to provide disadvantaged college students with effective preparation for research based doctoral study. Each year, the McNair program recruits up to thirteen eligible students, who become "McNair Scholars". Along with a dedicated mentor in the scholar's primary field of research, over a two-year time period, the McNair program prepares them for graduate level studies, with the penultimate goal of completing a research based doctorate degree. Also, the purpose of the McNair program is aligned with the institutional mission of UW-Eau Claire and directly contributes towards the University guidepost goal of closing the opportunity gap in higher education.


 

Synergy with Institutional Mission

The purpose of the McNair program is aligned with the institutional mission of UW-Eau Claire and directly contributes towards the University guidepost goal of closing the opportunity gap in higher education.


 

Motivation: Why we need the McNair Program

A doctorate degree bestows monetary and non-monetary benefits that last over a lifetime. These include highest annual median income compared to lower levels of educational attainment, an unemployment rate of close to zero percent, and a life-time earnings curve that is much higher than lower levels of educational attainment, and a wide array of research and academic employment possibilities.

Despite these benefits, American doctoral recipients are heavily skewed by socio-economic class, parental background, and race/ethnicity. Less than 20% of research doctorates go to students from first generation background. More than 80% of doctoral degrees are earned by White Americans and Asian Americans. Students from lower socio-economic status, whose parents did not complete college, and those from historically underrepresented background are not receiving the benefits of earning doctoral degree and hence suffering from an unlevel playing field in higher education.

The McNair program is a micro level policy intervention that aims at leveling the playing field in graduate level education -one McNair scholar at a time. It derives its purpose and motivation from the goal of leveling the playing field in graduate level education by preparing academically talented students from low income, first generation and underrepresented background for graduate level education, with the ultimate objective of completing doctoral studies. Ultimately, as more and more disadvantaged students go on to earn doctoral degrees, they receive the stated benefits of a doctoral degree, and go on to pass on these benefits to their future generations. The inter-generational cycle of benefits of educational attainment begins with each McNair scholar.


For more information about the program, please see our brochure.