CORVALLIS - The GTE Foundation has awarded Oregon State University a $30,000 grant to assist with development of its bachelor's degree program at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
This innovative program, which is part of the OSU Statewide extended education initiative, is allowing Native American students to earn, for the first time, complete bachelor's degrees in natural resources or environmental sciences without ever leaving the reservation.
The grant is one of only 15 awarded nationally by the GTE Foundation for 1998. It will help support student scholarships and a part-time adviser and program coordinator at the Warm Springs site - elements that university officials say "is critical to the success of new programs such as this."
"The program at Warm Springs is an important part of our new OSU Statewide initiative in which OSU ultimately will offer degree programs through distance technologies to every part of the state," university President Paul Risser said. "It . . . is one of our first sites and one that we hope will serve as a model for development of educational opportunities within other minority communities."
Through OSU Statewide, a variety of educational programs are being tailored to meet the higher educational needs of Oregonians in different locations, personal situations and fields of study, especially for working adults. The goal is to provide lifelong education from high school through retirement.
The Warm Springs initiative, in particular, seeks to meet the needs of students who want advanced education but are concerned about interrupting the social and cultural ties provided by the reservation, or lack the time or financial resources to pursue a college degree elsewhere.
The grant is part of GTE's annual "FOCUS" program, which has awarded a total of $6.1 million since its inception in 1982. It recognizes colleges and universities for innovative programs that will enable them to recruit and support qualified minority students in math, science and engineering.
"The decline in scientific and mathematical literacy in the United States is well documented," said Maureen Gorman, vice president of the GTE Foundation. "African American, Hispanic American and Native American students have traditionally been under-represented in higher education, particularly the technical disciplines. Programs such as FOCUS help create a broad pool of technical talent that business will be able to draw from in the future."