St. Mary’s STEM programs get $5.3 million boost

St. Mary's chemistry student in lab. Federal grant focuses on Hispanic, low-income students

St. Mary’s University this week was awarded more than $5.3 million to boost the growth of its School of Science, Engineering and Technology.

The University received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) STEM Program. The University will use the funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education development.

“We are grateful for this grant as we continue to respond to the ever-growing demand for STEM education on our campus,” said University President Thomas Mengler, J.D. “This grant will provide a strong boost to the implementation of the University’s strategic vision for the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, and we are especially excited about the impact that this grant will have on our University and our ability to serve the STEM needs of our region.”

The University will receive $5,325,975 over five years – $1,065,195 in Year 1 – for its Excellence in STEM Education project. The grant will assist in funding:

  • Enhancement of the Forensic Science program
  • Creation of a Bioinformatics program
  • Streamlined transfer services for STEM students at the Alamo Colleges
  • Coaching services for Hispanic STEM majors
  • Renovation and equipment for Biology and Chemistry laboratories
  • Faculty and staff, including a Bioinformatics professor, a Forensic Science professor, STEM coaches, a data analyst and a lab technician

Biology student using a microscope, SET homepage.David Turner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Science, and SET Dean Winston Erevelles, Ph.D., led the group that developed the grant proposal. The grant will be under Turner’s direction.

St. Mary’s has seen significant enrollment gains in undergraduate STEM programs since 2010, especially among Hispanic students. This fall, more than 47 percent of St. Mary’s freshmen chose a major in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. At the same time, San Antonio has been on a mission to develop industry in these fields. St. Mary’s is advancing its STEM pipeline in order to connect students with growing professional opportunities.

“The STEM industries are driving job creation and economic growth all over the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro. “It’s critical our colleges and universities train the next generation of workers to excel in these increasingly important fields. I’m glad St. Mary’s received this Department of Education funding to support the University’s terrific programs that prepare students for successful STEM careers. St. Mary’s is doing our economy a great service by tapping the talent of folks from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM industries.”

By the end of the project, St. Mary’s expects to increase enrollment in STEM programs by at least 6 percent, with at least 50 percent of new students being Hispanic and/or low income. The University also expects to double the number of transfer STEM students.

As a result, St. Mary’s anticipates increased graduation numbers in these fields. At least 8 percent more undergrad STEM degrees will be awarded overall, and at least 9 percent more will be awarded to Hispanic students.


St. Mary's University, founded in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It offers 75 programs, including doctoral and law programs, and has a diverse student population of about 3,800 of all faiths and backgrounds. Its vision, as a Catholic and Marianist liberal arts institution, is to become one of the finest private universities in the region, a gateway for graduates to professional lives as ethical leaders in Texas, the nation and the world.

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