Bonner Program Expanded, McNair Cancelled
One prominent campus program providing students with financial support will grow this year, while another will close down in 2009.
The Bonner Scholars program, which provides scholarships to students from low-income families who spend a certain number of hours during the year engaging in community service, has grown significantly thanks to a $4.5 million gift from the Bonner Foundation. The Foundation provided the grant this summer to ensure that the program remains at Oberlin.
The money will be used to create an endowment, meaning the college will not need to go through the application process for funds each year. To celebrate the partnership, the Oberlin Center for Service and Learning has been renamed the Bonner Center for Service and Learning.
Since 1991, when Oberlin joined the Bonner program, hundreds of students have been given grant money allowing them to pursue service projects, ranging from growing food for the hungry and doing research for non-profits to working with local organizations such as America Reads and the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County.
While the Bonner program is expanding, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is shutting down. The program, as run at Oberlin, encourages students to undertake mentored research projects by providing cash awards and summer living stipends. It is aimed at increasing the numbers of students traditionally underrepresented in graduate education, including low-income, first-generation, African-American, Latino-American and Native American students.
Institutions are eligible for McNair grants if they enroll a minimum of 27 students who qualify for the program under federal guidelines. This is an increase from previous years when only 20 students were needed. Because of a downswing in enrollment from students who qualify, Oberlin will not be able to receive money from this grant as of 2009.
Oberlin has been a part of the McNair program since 1989, with a three-year cessation in the 1990s when it did not meet the minimum requirements for grant money.
The McNair program was named after a first-generation African-American college student who went on to become a physicist and astronaut. McNair was aboard the Challenger when it exploded on lift off in 1986.