A photo of James Cabell Library
VCU is one of only three universities in Virginia to have been awarded the McNair Program grant. (Allen Jones, University Marketing)

VCU awarded $1.3 million grant to establish McNair Program

Grant helps first-generation, low-income and historically underrepresented undergraduate students attain doctoral degrees.

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Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.

The McNair Program is one of seven federal TRIO programs, targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. The McNair Program assists underrepresented students from low-income backgrounds in the attainment of doctoral degrees.

VCU is one of only three universities in Virginia to have been awarded the McNair Program grant. In addition to preparing qualified students to pursue graduate studies and complete doctoral work, the McNair scholars are also exposed to opportunities for research or other scholarly activities; summer internships; seminars, tutoring, academic counseling and other activities designed to assist them in navigating the postgraduate landscape.  The grant will be a collaboration between the Graduate School and the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management and Student Success. 

“We couldn’t be more excited to initiate the Ronald McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program at VCU. Participation in McNair gives our students the support, inspiration and access they need to seek an advanced degree,” said Tomikia LeGrande, Ed.D., vice president for strategy, enrollment management, and student success. “The McNair Program is one way we’re showing our commitment to the success of all of our students. We’ve created and sustained a unique culture of care and we have an unrelenting focus on meeting the needs of our diverse student population. Thanks to Dr. Chimene Boone, director of TRIO programs; Dr. Dan Bullard, dean of the Graduate School; Dr. Daphne Rankin, associate vice president for special programs; and Dr. Jeffery Wilson, principal investigator and associate dean of the graduate school, for their leadership in ensuring VCU submitted a competitive and successful grant.”

The Ronald McNair Program is named for Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D., who was the second African-American to fly in space and a member of the Challenger Space Shuttle’s seven-member crew who met a tragic end during a disastrous mission in 1986. As a tribute to his achievements, Congress and the McNair family formed the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program to assist young people in not only following in McNair’s path, but also taking the initiative to chart their own course.