16 Aug 2022

Saint Augustine’s University Receives $1.6M in McNair Grant Funding for Emerging Doctoral Students 

Seated left to right: Mr. Antonio Stephens, Director of SAU’s TRIO Center of Excellence, and Ms. Ashley Smith, Educational Advisor, greet prospective students at SAU’s 2022 Spring Open House. Photo courtesy of Saint Augustine’s University.

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) was the recipient of the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program. Beginning in October 2022, the university will receive over $250,000 for the next five years for a total of approximately $1.6M to prepare emerging doctoral students who meet the eligibility requirements through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. 

In tandem with SAU’s TRIO Center of Excellence, the McNair grant program will provide support, resources, and advocacy for low-income and first-generation students seeking to attain a bachelor’s degree on their path to obtaining their master’s- and doctoral-level degrees. In addition, the goal is to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society. 

“The SAU McNair Scholars Project will have the ability to open unimaginable opportunities for traditionally underrepresented low-income and first-generation college students to break barriers and apply, enter, and be successful in graduate school or beyond. The Project will be ongoing in its commitment to support students during their undergraduate experience by involving them in research opportunities and devoted mentoring. Participants in the SAU McNair Scholars Project will develop the knowledge and proficiencies to become relevant to the scholarly aims of top graduate programs,” said Antonio Stephens, Director of SAU’s TRIO Center of Excellence. “With the addition of the McNair Scholars Project, SAU now can assist qualified students within their specific target area with free academic, cultural, and social services from the sixth grade to those entering graduate school through our TRIO Center of Excellence.” 

The McNair grant program and TRIO Center will serve 25 college students annually at SAU. The latter meets the eligibility requirements of the U.S. Department of Education. All eligible students will receive the necessary resources to complete their degrees. These resources include research opportunities or other scholarly activities for impactful doctoral preparation, summer internships, seminars, tutoring, academic counseling, financial assistance, graduate enrollment assistance, financial and economic literacy, and mentoring. In addition, SAU’s TRIO staff will monitor each McNair scholar’s progress for help with problems they may encounter. 

“SAU is proud and honored to receive the McNair TRIO program. This program will allow SAU to increase the number of underrepresented students, particularly students of color, seeking graduate-level education. The McNair program will provide students opportunities far beyond their undergraduate program experience. I want to thank Mr. Stephens and his team for their diligence in obtaining this grant,” said Dr. Leslie Rodriguez-McClellon, Senior Vice President of Student Experience at SAU. 

Though the program is just starting, the successes of this project will also provide a model for the institution. In addition, the university is constantly seeking and implementing ways to improve the overall achievements of the students SAU serves. The McNair Scholars/TRIO project at Saint Augustine’s University will be the university’s first program of its kind. 

“The SAU TRIO Center of Excellence has a rich history of impacting first-generation college students,” said SAU President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail. “This award reflects Mr. Stephens’ leadership and his team’s service to our scholars.”