Established in 1991 at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is a federally funded program in memory of physicist and Challenger Astronaut, Dr. Ronald E. McNair. The program is designed to increase the number of first-generation, low-income and/or underrepresented students in doctoral programs, and ultimately, to diversify the faculty in colleges and universities across the country. It is one of several TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education supporting the academic achievement of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
The McNair Program provides undergraduate students with opportunities to participate in academic year and summer research activities. McNair Scholars attend courses, seminars and workshops on a wide range of topics related to graduate school preparation, and personal, professional, and sociocultural development. Students will also complete a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor; and have the opportunity to present their research at local, regional and national conferences.
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In the late 1960s, the term "TRIO" was coined to describe three federal outreach programs developed as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. In support of its commitment to providing educational opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance, Congress established the Higher Education Act from which a series of programs were created. Upward Bound was the first program to emerge from the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964. The second TRIO outreach program, Talent Search, was created in 1965 as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services which was originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments and became the third in this series of educational opportunity programs. Over 1,000 colleges, universities, community colleges, and agencies now offer TRIO Programs across the United States.
The McNair program is one of four TRiO programs on the Rutgers University—New Brunswick campus. The services provided are designed to prepare rising juniors and seniors, who have demonstrated academic potential, with the research and scholarship skills necessary for entry into doctoral studies. Rutgers McNair Scholars have continued on to attend and receive doctoral degrees from some of the most prestigious institutions in the nation, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, University of California—Berkeley, and Stanford.