UGA employee picked to head minority recruitment program

Athens, Ga. — A University of Georgia administrator was tapped to run a $5 million program designed to increase minority student involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in Georgia colleges.

Curtis Byrd, former director of recruitment and retention for graduate studies at UGA, said he plans to work closely with existing programs at the university in his new role as executive director of the Peach State Louis Stoke Alliance for Minority Participation.

“Of all the majors, minority students are less represented in STEM disciplines, that’s why there’s a need for this type of program to assist students in pursuing those degrees,” he said.

“There are related programs here, but…one difference is that this is a year-round program supported by a federal agency. One of our goals is to unify all the programs so that they will work seamlessly together,” he said.

The program’s budget comes from a National Science Foundation grant awarded to six Georgia colleges and universities. Byrd says working with other schools, Bainbridge College, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Perimeter College, Savannah State University and Southern Polytechnic University, is key to the program’s success.

“We will have programs such as summer research initiatives, a high school bridge program and year-long research apprenticeships with students at each institution,” he said.

The program aims to double the number of minority students enrolled in STEM studies at the participating schools from 560 to 1,120 in five years.

Byrd holds a master of education and a bachelor of science degree from Iowa State University. He also has 10 years of experience in collegiate recruitment and admissions, which made him an ideal candidate for the job, said Matthew Winston, assistant to the president at UGA.

“Byrd possesses a great deal of skills and experiences that are going to benefit this program and help us recruit and retain students to pursue academic careers in STEM disciplines not only at UGA, but at colleges and schools across the state.  I am excited about the good work that I know he will do in this regard,” he said.

To kick things off, Byrd is planning to hold a student and faculty orientation at UGA later this month.



Note to editors:  A photograph of Curtis Byrd is available at http://www.ugaphoto.alumni.uga.edu/news/22148-007.jpg.