The Collegian
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Ayers invited to White House

University of Richmond President Ed Ayers went to the White House Dec. 4 to pledge the university's commitment to increasing the number of underrepresented students graduating with degrees in STEM fields.

“A central principle of the university’s strategic plan, 'The Richmond Promise,’ is to expand educational opportunities to students of all means and backgrounds,” Ayers said. “Increasing the number of Richmond graduates from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and math disciplines is a key component of that effort."

After receiving its third Undergraduate Science Education Award from Howard Hughes Medical Institute in May 2012, Richmond announced the University of Richmond Integrated Science Experience. URISE is a summer "bridge" program for incoming freshmen interested in majoring in STEM fields. The program includes investigation-based laboratory experiments designed to help prepare students for success in first-year science and math classes, according to a release from the university. It also serves to provide opportunities for career exploration and networking through a partnership with the Office of Alumni and Career Services.

Students continue to receive support during their first year of college through enrollment in one of two research-based and interdisciplinary classes organized around a single topic. The students also all receive funding for faculty-mentored research the summer following their freshmen year.

"Providing these students with opportunities not only contributes to their success but also that of the economy and our nation," Ayers said.

Biology professor April Hill said she believed the new program would help prepare a wide variety of Richmond students for success in STEM classes. "I am very excited that we have made a commitment to provide our students with innovative and integrated science experiences that are grounded in real-world, authentic research both inside and outside of the classroom."

Ayers attended President Barack Obama's second White House College Opportunity Day of Action, which consisted of hundreds of university leaders. 

Contact reporter Ben Panko at

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