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McNair Scholars

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program recognizes that the diversity of researchers is an integral component of scholastic excellence. It seeks to produce a new generation of scholars and researchers that will more accurately reflect the growing diversity in intellectual perspectives, life experiences, and cultures represented in academia. Beloit College is one of the few private liberal arts institutions with this program. At Beloit, it is particularly significant because it serves a critical group of talented students who are groomed to become scholars and leaders.

McNair 2017 Cohort at The University of Minnesota
Picture: McNair 2017 Cohort at UW Minnesota 

Program Goals

  1. To increase the number of low-income, first generation, and underrepresented minority students in PhD programs
  2. To produce a new generation of scholars that reflects diversity in intellectual perspectives, life experiences, and cultures
  3. To create a scholarly community of rigor, engagement and success
  4. To serve as a model for the development of emerging socially progressive scholars
  5. To foster spaces for interdisciplinary scholarship, mentorship and knowledge exchange

Find ongoing McNair events and opportunities on facebook.  

McNair Symposium Group Shot
Picture: UC Berkeley 21st Annual McNair Symposium 2013

Dr. Ronald E. McNair

Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair was the second African American to fly in space. Born on October 21, 1950 to a struggling family in racially segregated Lake City, South Carolina, Ronald never accepted second best.

In high school he was a Star Scout, a talented football player, a skilled musician and a karate champion. He graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967.

Ronald McNair continued his education at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in physics in 1971. At the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory, Dr. McNair became nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. NASA selected him for the Space Shuttle Program in 1978. He was the second African-American chosen to join the space program and made his first space flight in 1984. Tragically, Dr. McNair and six other astronauts perished aboard the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.

To honor Dr. McNair, the United States Congress endowed the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds and/or underrepresented populations to pursue graduate studies.