Otterbein Receives Choose Ohio First Grant for Cardinal STEMM Scholars Program

Posted Apr 06, 2021

Otterbein University has received a Choose Ohio First (COF) grant from the State of Ohio and the Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to increase the number of Ohio residents completing postsecondary studies in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) and STEMM education. 

“Choose Ohio First provides an excellent opportunity for those students who stay in Ohio and continue their education to get the skills they need to succeed in promising career fields,” Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner explained.  

The grant of $1,051,923.60 will fund the “Cardinal STEMM Scholars: Building Ohio’s STEMM Pipeline” program, a five-year program to increase enrollment of low-income students and students from urban school districts in Otterbein’s chemistry, environmental science, engineering physics, physics, and systems engineering programs. Increasing Otterbein’s pool of qualified graduates in these areas will help to improve Ohio’s workforce development capacity to innovate and grow the economy. 

“The Choose Ohio First grant will allow Otterbein to meet the needs of underserved student populations, as well as contribute to Ohio’s economy by providing career-ready graduates in high-demand fields,” said Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president for enrollment management. “We are establishing a strong pipeline of talent for Ohio employers and ensuring these graduates will secure jobs in their fields of study once they earn their degrees.” 

The Cardinal STEMM Scholars program will enroll 10-15 students for each of the five years of the grant period and provide these students with scholarships and additional support, including opportunities to participate in internships and research. The program will not only increase the enrollment, but also retention and timely completion of students through a comprehensive, cohort-based support system.  

The program was conceived through a collaboration led by Otterbein faculty members Sarah Bouchard, Jerald Brevick, Joan Esson, Mike Hudoba, Dave Robertson, and Kevin Svitana, as well Bridgette Cahalin from the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs and representatives from Enrollment Management, including Blackburn-Smith, Kirsten Crotte, and Mark Moffitt. 

“I am proud of Otterbein’s commitment to providing support for aspiring STEMM majors through meaningful scholarship programs,” said Bouchard, professor of biology and earth science. “It is really a testament to the high-quality STEMM education that we offer at Otterbein and the dedication of faculty to student success. I look forward to welcoming all our scholarship recipients to campus and watching them grow and develop as scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.” 

Otterbein will leverage its relationship with Columbus State Community College and urban school districts to create supported STEMM student cohorts.  

This new program is modeled after Otterbein’s Cardinal Science Scholars program, a National Science Foundation-funded program for low-income, academically talented students in biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, environmental science, physics, or zoo and conservation science majors. The graduation rate of Cardinal Science Scholars is twice the rate of other STEMM majors, and students participate in research or internships at twice the rate of students not involved in the program. 

Otterbein received an NSF S-STEM grant of $999,348 in fall semester 2020 for the continued funding of the Cardinal Science Scholars program. 

Earlier this semester, Otterbein’s Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science was awarded a $1,185,537 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (NOYCE) for a five-year program to address the shortage of highly qualified mathematics teachers, particularly in urban, high-need schools. 

These scholarship programs support Otterbein’s work to increase access and affordability to students of all backgrounds, a mission supported by Otterbein’s President John Comerford.  

“Access and affordability are key to Otterbein’s mission,” said Comerford. “The students in this program will add to the diversity of campus and help create a better learning environment for all students while we ensure our graduates a ready to meet the workforce needs of Ohio.” 

You can follow Otterbein’s STEM programs online @otterbeinstem.