Student Services and OSET Receive DOE Funding for PIUSS project

October 10, 2011 - Dorene DiNaro

The Office of Student Services and the Office of Support Effective Teaching (OSET) were awarded funding in the amount of $3.8 million from the U.S. Department of Education for a five-year term for the Project for Inclusive Undergraduate STEM Success (PIUSS).

This project concentrates on widening the gateway for student success in courses that commonly represent barriers for students pursuing STEM degrees.  PIUSS aims to increase the number of Hispanic and other low-income students attaining STEM degrees, and provide a model for collaboration with faculty at two-year institutions for greater alignment of academics and instruction.  PIUSS will focus on the engagement and success of students in the STEM academics.

”With this comprehensive and data driven grant, we should make an impact on students’ desires to go into the STEM fields, and then graduating students in greater numbers in order for them to join the workforce,” says Tim Gutierrez, Associate Vice President for Student Services. “Being a minority-majority state, it is critical that UNM and our partners make every effort to provide the opportunity for students to succeed in the STEM field.”    

Despite the fact thatUNM’s undergraduate population enrolled for the fall 2011 semester is Hispanic there are fewer Hispanics graduating with STEM degrees.  This project is geared toward improving the capacity to serve Hispanic students. 

“We are excited to have the resources to implement research-based approaches to improve the retention and graduation of STEM students, especially among Hispanic and low-income students that comprise such a large portion of aspiring STEM majors,” says OSET Director and Professor, Gary Smith.

PIUSS will provide STEM gateway course reform, peer learning facilitators in classrooms, and STEM student interest groups to shadow gateway courses.  The project plan will be guided by data-driven evaluation and decision making including developing UNM institutional research capacities to collect, analyze, and evaluate student-tracking and achievement data on Hispanic, low-income and transferring STEM students.

“Student success begins in the classroom and, for STEM majors, in the gateway courses where there is a need to improve student learning and motivation to succeed.  As the country’s only flagship university that is also a majority-minority institution, this grant will assist UNM to strive toward national leadership in educating the fastest growing segment of the US population,” Smith says.

Gutierrez adds that the University of New Mexico is in a unique position, with both this individual grant and cooperative Title V HSI STEM grant to try and make institutional changes which will enhance our capacity to serve students. “STEM is, and will be a key factor in the success of our nation on a global level,” he says.

For more information on the grant or PIUSS, contact Nora Dominguez at 505-277-1484 or