Sophomore Tammy Huff is the kind of student Kansas University is targeting with programs developed to attract more minority students to graduate school.
"I've decided to go to medical school," said Huff of Wichita. "I'm interested in going into pediatrics, where there is a real need for minority doctors."
Robert Sanders, associate dean of the KU graduate school, said the country's colleges and universities face a serious shortage of people with advanced degrees.
He said there will be a wave of faculty retirements in the next decade, but in the past decade the number of minorities receiving doctorates has declined sharply.
"This will be an opportunity to diversify the faculty. In order to have the diversification take place, we need to have students prepared to fill those roles," he said.
TO THAT end, 300 state university minority students with grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher have been invited to a conference Saturday at KU on minority graduate education.
"The purpose is to inform qualified minority students of the value of graduate education," said Robert Creighton of Atwood, who is Board of Regents chairman.
The conference was held for the first time last year. Students obtain information about requirements, admissions procedures and availability of financial aid.
Meanwhile, the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is working to establish a program to mentor undergraduate minority students who have potential for graduate school.
The college plans a workshop Nov. 21 for faculty who are interested in participating in the mentoring program, said Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett, associate dean of the college.
"THIS IS in response to the lack of minority faculty," she said. "Mentoring is not a new concept. I'd like to think ours is a unique approach, but I can't."
McCluskey-Fawcett said the idea is to pair a faculty member with an undergraduate student. They would attend a class together and follow that with a joint research project, she said.
"We really need more minority teachers at KU," said Robert Lopez, a senior in psychology who helped McCluskey-Fawcett develop the college's mentoring program.
"Mainly, I want blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians to go to graduate school, fit into the system and at the same time be proud of their culture," he said.
GRADUATE students encounter many things they didn't as undergraduates: more laborious class schedules, more formidable subjects and higher tuition rates.
However, Sanders said the greatest obstacle to graduate school is money. Most students need financial aid to initiate or complete graduate studies, he said.
"I don't have scholarships or grants," said Arthur Turner, a blind minority graduate student seeking a master's degree. "Everything costs more. That's a deterrent."