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House Committee Hears Testimony on Pursuing a Diverse STEM Workforce

May 09, 2019

students walking on campus

ACE’s Lorelle Espinosa testifies to committee members about the importance of MSIs in strengthening STEM education

​Lorelle Espinosa, ACE's vice president for research, testified Thursday before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology at a hearing looking into efforts to diversify the STEM workforce.

During her testimony, Espinosa encouraged Congress to expand funding mechanisms for minority serving institutions (MSIs) that strengthen STEM infrastructure, improve teaching quality at MSIs, and enhance public-private partnerships. “Such investment requires significant increases in annual appropriations to support capacity-building funds for MSIs and need-based student financial aid, including scholarship aid,” she said.

At the beginning of the hearing, the first time since 2010 the committee had discussed broadening participation in STEM, Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) talked about the importance of including people of color and women in STEM disciplines. “We have gotten by with a STEM workforce that does not come close to representing the diversity of our nation. However, if we continue to leave behind so much of our nation’s brainpower, we cannot succeed,” she said. 

Espinosa implored the importance of tapping into MSIs ability to reach students where they are. “As the nation continues to grow more diverse, the proportion of MSIs in America’s higher education system will continue to grow. These institutions are a valuable but underutilized asset for the nation, and with greater investment and intentional support from Congress, states, and the private sector, they can contribute in significant ways to local, regional, and national economic development and job creation.  

Joining Espinosa as witnesses were former astronaut Mae Jemison, Shirley Malcom, senior advisor and director of SEA Change at the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Barbara Whye, chief diversity and inclusion officer for Intel; and James L. Moore III, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for The Ohio State University.

Espinosa co-chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), which published the recent report, “Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce.” The report includes key findings, recommendations, and strategies related to strengthening STEM education and research at the more than 700 MSIs across the country. An expanded summary of Espinosa’s testimony is available to download here.

 
 ACE's Lorelle Espinosa prepares to testify before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology May 9. 
 

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