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Bloomberg is donating $ 150 million to help universities diversify their STEM doctorates

Michael Bloomberg is donating a total of $ 150 million to Johns Hopkins University and six other colleges to help increase racial diversity among doctoral students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The effort was announced on Tuesday in a joint statement from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Bloomberg’s alma mater and the recipient of most of the money.

Funding also goes to a handful of historically black colleges and universities, as well as minority institutions: Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The initiative was named in honor of Vivien Thomas, a black surgical lab director best known for his work developing a life-saving cardiac surgery technique to treat infant blue baby syndrome, or methemoglobinemia that occurs when there is insufficient oxygen is in the blood.

Mr. Thomas, who grew up at Jim Crow South, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 1976 by Johns Hopkins and was named a Surgery Instructor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative will permanently pay 100 new slots for the promotion. Students in more than 30 programs at Johns Hopkins. The first group will do their PhD at the university. Programs in autumn 2022.

“STEM fields are playing an increasingly important role in developing innovative solutions to a variety of urgent challenges. Programs do not reflect the great diversity of our country, ”Bloomberg said in a statement. The initiative “will help increase diversity in industries that bring advances we haven’t even imagined and shape the lives of future generations,” he said.

At the selected institutions as well as at Johns Hopkins, a total of more than 15 million US dollars from the initiative to “Strengthen Pathways for Talented Students” will be used to do a doctorate in STEM areas, according to the announcement.

The donation from Mr. Bloomberg, a former New York City Mayor and longtime benefactor of Johns Hopkins, comes in the face of longstanding concerns about the lack of racial diversity on campus and the rising costs of higher education. In 2018, Mr Bloomberg donated $ 1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins to create a fund to help low-income students get involved.

In 2018, the New York University School of Medicine announced that it would cover tuition fees for all of its students regardless of merit or need, citing concerns about the “overwhelming financial debt” faced by graduates. During an opening speech in 2019, billionaire Robert F. Smith told Morehouse College graduates sitting in front of him that he and his family would pay off their student debts.

However, the lack of racial diversity in STEM doctoral programs has continued. In announcing the initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins cited a report from the National Science Foundation that found fewer than five doctoral theses were awarded to black or Hispanic students in the United States in more than 30 scientific fields in 2019.

For example, in bioinformatics, a sub-discipline of biology and computer science, doctoral theses were awarded to a black student, two Hispanic students, 27 Asian students, and 103 white students, according to the report.

Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, said in a statement that “Decades of data and our own experience show the enduring truth that Ph.D. Programs, especially in the STEM areas, do not reflect the full range of talent available. “

At Johns Hopkins, 11 percent of STEM Ph.D. The programs come from historically underrepresented racial groups, compared to an average of 9 percent at other private research universities.

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