Thursday, Sept. 7, 2000
Terry Lightfoot (510) 987-9194


Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA), a statewide outreach program administered by the University of California, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring today (Sept. 7) in a Washington, D.C., ceremony.

The award, established by President Clinton and administered by the National Science Foundation, acknowledges institutions and individuals that serve as national models by supporting underrepresented students in math-based fields become scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

"We must draw upon our nation's full talent pool to maintain U.S. leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge," said President Clinton. "We honor these individuals and institutions who have contributed so much through their mentoring efforts to achieve greater diversity throughout the ranks of our scientific and engineering workforce."

NSF granted the award to 10 institutions and 10 individuals from across the country, including a MESA program in Washington, which is modeled after the California MESA program.

Established in 1970, MESA provides academic support services to more than 24,400 educationally disadvantaged students in California. More than 90 MESA centers offer assistance to students at the pre-college, community college and university levels. Over 400 elementary, middle and senior high schools participate in the MESA program.

UC President Richard C. Atkinson lauded MESA as one of the most effective outreach programs supported by the university. "MESA is one of the strongest programs of its kind in producing students who become successful math, engineering, and science professionals," he said. "I am proud of the opportunities MESA has opened up for thousands of deserving students and delighted to see it gain this outstanding national recognition."

MESA has produced outstanding academic results. Approximately 85 percent of MESA high school seniors go on to attend college, compared with the statewide average of 55 percent. Of MESA community college students who transferred to four-year institutions in 1998-99, all of them entered math-based majors.

MESA students make up 90 percent of all California's and 12.5 percent of the nation's underrepresented graduates who earn bachelor's degrees in engineering.

A key component of MESA's success is partnerships with business and industry. Corporations and representatives from Chevron, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lockheed, Lucent Technologies, Pacific Bell and Texaco are actively involved with the program including serving on the MESA board of directors.

"I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of MESA's partners in government, education, industry and the community," said MESA Executive Director Michael Aldaco. "The active involvement of these groups is the key to MESA's academic mentoring system that supports students to succeed in engineering, science and mathematics."

MESA is a part of a comprehensive effort by the University of California to increase the number of underrepresented students academically prepared for college through student mentoring, early academic planning, school partnerships and teacher professional development.

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