By Lauren Rothering
Editor in Chief
According to a recent Forbes report, Saint Mary’s University is the nation’s top-ranked university for graduating minority students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
“The school doesn’t have a large minority population,” Forbes reports. “But of those minority students, 35% received their degrees in STEM—well above the median among colleges, which is just 10%.”
SMU offers STEM programs both at its Winona campus and in bachelor completion programs at its Twin Cities campus. To conduct their research, Forbes compared the percentage of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians (groups typically underrepresented in STEM) to whites and Asians (groups typically well-represented in STEM). Forbes excluded from its study those schools whose student population is almost entirely minority students.
Through this process, SMU came out on top, even though its university-wide undergraduate “graduating class of 2008 was barely 10% minority, just above the national median,” said the report.
According to Dr. Thomas Mans, professor of social science and director of college assessment, SMU’s Lasallian heritage plays a large part in the rankings.
“We take that [our heritage] very seriously.” With regard to the Winona undergraduate college, Mans said “We’re self-consciously not an elite institution. It makes it really good for kids who are first-generation, for kids who are coming from modest backgrounds,” said Mans.
STEM program graduates typically have the highest starting and mid-career salaries, said the report, a fact that Mans deems important for SMU students, especially.
“STEM careers are great careers; we know that, and we get that message across to them [the students],” said Mans. “There is this sense that part of our mission is to find [students] with potential and to make it work for them when it may not have worked for them somewhere else.”