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University News

Math Enhancement Program at Cal State Fullerton Geared to Increasing Ranks of Science Degree-Holders


November 3, 2004 :: No. 78

A program established to increase the number of underrepresented students earning degrees in science, engineering, computer science and math has begun its third five-year cycle at Cal State Fullerton, under the direction of Ernie Solheid, professor of mathematics.

The California State University Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation is a joint project between the National Science Foundation and the CSU. It was established in 1993 and currently operates on 19 CSU campuses, including Fullerton. Cal State Fullerton recently received $31,250 to support program efforts.

Two main components of the CSUF program are an intensive summer institute in mathematics and academic year workshops in college algebra, precalculus and calculus, noted Solheid, who has served as the campus program coordinator for seven years. Since its inception in 1993, Cal State Fullerton’s program has served about 400 students. Last summer, 28 new students joined the program.

“The basis for these activities are studies that indicate that their first-year mathematics courses are one of the main stumbling blocks for many minority students intending to major in science or engineering,” said Solheid. “The summer institute and academic year workshops are designed to provide these students first, with the appropriate background to start their first-year mathematics courses, and second, with academic support while taking the courses.

“Studies by the CSU Chancellor’s Office have indicated that the program has been very successful in retaining the targeted students in their chosen majors and helping them to graduate,” said Solheid. “The grade-point-averages of students in the program have consistently been higher than the targeted students who did not participate.”

One new feature of the Cal State Fullerton program, Solheid added, is a greater emphasis on placing students into graduate programs. The alliance offers stipends for student participants to work on independent research projects with faculty members during the summer and with financial support to travel to research conferences and graduate schools.

Working with Solheid is Harriet Edwards, professor of mathematics, who conducts the academic year workshops and Tanomo Taguchi of Fullerton College, who co-teaches the summer math institute with Solheid.

Solheid, a Fullerton resident, has been a member of the campus faculty since 1988. He holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin.

Media Contacts: Ernie Solheid at 657-278-7023 or esolheid@fullerton.edu
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs at 657-278-4852 or pmclaren@fullerton.edu


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