UH Hilo receives National Science Foundation award to lead Islands of Opportunity Alliance

Partnership will help to increase number of underrepresented students in Hawaii and the Pacific to receive degrees in STEM areas

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Sep 21, 2006

HILO, Hawaiʻi —The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has been selected to serve as the lead institution for the National Science Foundation‘s newly awarded Islands of Opportunity Alliance, part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.

UH Hilo will work collaboratively with 19 institutions throughout Hawaiʻi and the Pacific to increase the overall number of underrepresented students receiving bachelor degrees in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Alliance member institutions include UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, UH West Oahu, Chaminade University, the University of Guam, Hawaiʻi Pacific University, the community colleges of the UH system, American Samoa Community College, Guam Community College, College of the Marshall Islands, Northern Marianas College, College of Micronesia and Palau Community College.

The Islands of Opportunity Alliance‘s key leadership team consists of UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng, who will serve as principal investigator; Dr. Dan Brown serving as program director; and Carmen Perez-Frayne serving as program manager.

"As a university that has always valued diversity and provided education for the underrepresented in society, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is privileged and honored to take the lead in the Islands of Opportunity Alliance," said Tseng. "This program will play a vital role in bringing a culturally relevant education in the STEM disciplines to the people of the Pacific Basin."

Launched in 1991, the main goal of LSAMP is to encourage and facilitate access to careers in STEM fields for underrepresented populations. More specifically, NSF hopes to encourage these students to enroll in and complete baccalaureate programs in STEM fields, as well as to continue on to graduate studies in these fields. The LSAMP Program began with grants to six multi-institution collaborative efforts called Alliances. Today, there are 34 Alliances with more than 450 participating institutions throughout the country, with the Islands of Opportunity Alliance being the newest addition.

The Islands of Opportunity Alliance plans to build upon the successes of past and current LSAMP Programs throughout the country, utilizing practices that have been shown to best accomplish the primary goal of increasing graduation rates of underrepresented students in STEM fields. The Alliance has adapted these best practices to the unique cultural and geographic setting of the Pacific region, utilizing the extensive scholarship on cross-cultural communication and on learning styles of islander peoples, and administrative structures that have succeeded in spanning the vast distances between islands.