Sciences earn $3.5 million grant

A Title V STEM Grant worth $3.5 million was awarded to the University of La Verne by the United States Department of Education on Oct. 1.

The purpose of the grant is to strengthen the natural science and math departments and enhance the learning environment for current and future students attending ULV.

The Title V STEM Grant is a two-year grant. Since the money is disbursed one year at a time, ULV received $2.16 million for the first year.

The STEM Grant is going to be shared with Citrus College and various local high schools.

“The grant puts ULV on the map and opens the doors to many opportunities,” Jerome Garcia, ULV associate professor of biology, said.

“By receiving this grant, it brings a lot of prestige to the school,” he added.

Jay Jones, new project director of the STEM Grant and professor of biology and biochemistry, said the primary goal of the STEM Grant is to work cooperatively with Citrus College and local high schools to make sure their curriculums are customized so students are better prepared when they arrive at ULV.

“Since many students are under prepared in math and science, the grant will allow our faculty to work collaboratively with high school faculty to find out the holes of the curriculum in order to better prepare their students,” said Bianca Hunter, coordinator for sponsored research and the Institutional Review Board.

“It will allow us to better prepare teachers at Citrus and the high schools to better engage students and assist student’s retention in the science majors,” Al Clark, associate vice president of Academic affairs and professor of humanities, said. “It will help students become more successful in the science programs which are so important today with problems such as the healthcare crisis.”

The grant also helps pay for a summer science camp.

The science camp involves “science squads of La Verne students” going to Citrus College to teach labs and courses and prepare the students for the next level of higher learning, Clark said.

The grant administrators said many talented students stop in high school or community college because they feel they cannot excel in the natural science and math divisions.

The grant will encourage students and help them realize that they are capable of accomplishing their dreams of becoming a doctor, dentist or researcher with the help of a tailored curriculum and a strong faculty.

“The grant will help with preparing, motivating and supporting future students,” Clark said. “It tells them, ‘You can do it, and we [ULV] can help.’”

With the grant, ULV will gain the money for the creation of a new biology laboratory plus new equipment for the lab, which, say the administrators, was desperately needed.

Money from the STEM Grant will increase ULV’s endowment.

Increasing the endowment fund is something that is always needed, according to Clark.

“It specifically is a grant to assist or strengthen the institution,” Jones said.

“It is going to improve the natural science division, which includes biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics,” said Kathleen Weaver, assistant professor of biology.

The natural science division works as a team with the different faculty members in order to integrate the different science majors, according to Garcia.

“The faculty works together as a division,” said Stacy Darling-Novak, associate professor of biology. “By interacting with different faculty members, it fulfills the needs of our students.”

The natural science division allows students to gain knowledge in various sciences and not focus on one subject, said Garcia.

“I’m excited about the grant,” Jones said. “It will increase our enrollments.”

Applying for the grant was a long process in which many people from the science department participated.

Garcia, Darling-Novak and Weaver were greatly involved in the process of receiving the grant.

“We shared a lot of the roles, and we worked together,” said Weaver. “The three of us come up with ideas and what we were going to do through the course of the grant, and how we were going to spend the money.”

“Everybody contributed to this process,” said Garcia.

“It took about eight months preparing the data, writing the document and actually submitting it,” Clark said.

Clark compared it to writing a paper for a class and said, “You are competing with a lot of ‘A’s,’ so yours has to be the best A in order for you to receive the grant.”

Being part of the Hispanic Serving Institutions (HIS) made them eligible to apply for the grant. However, the grant is for everyone, according to Clark and Hunter.

“ULV is in a crossroads, and we have wonderful opportunities to fulfill our potential,” said Jones. “I believe this grant, with changes in our awareness, can finally help us come to that potential.”

Natalie Veissalov can be reached at

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