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Old Dominion University has joined forces with Hampton University and The College of William and Mary to increase the number of under-represented minority students earning doctorates in marine and ocean sciences through a program supported by a $1.1 million award from the National Science Foundation. Hampton University's Department of Marine Science will announce the Hall-Bonner Program for Minority Doctoral Scholars in Ocean Sciences during a ceremony at 1 p.m. April 30 in the Marine Science Building conference room on the HU campus.

"Today, there are excellent programs that reach out to minority students at the K-12 and undergraduate levels, but data show that these students are not taking the final step and getting their Ph.D.s," said Gregory Cutter, director of the ODU component of the program and professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences. "This is what the Hall-Bonner Program seeks to achieve, to prime the pump, and as such make itself irrelevant after some time."

The program will build on the recognized strengths in graduate-level education in the marine and ocean sciences of the region's two major state-assisted universities. Students will earn their degrees following the normal doctoral curricula at either ODU or William and Mary, and then take additional specialized courses at Hampton University. The Hall-Bonner program will provide full support for tuition and stipends.

Six students are currently members of the program and will be introduced at the ceremony. Andrea Rocha, who earned her bachelor's degree from Texas A&M, will study biological oceanography at Old Dominion under Margaret Mulholland, assistant professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences.

"The Hall-Bonner program will help prepare students for careers as college professors and leaders in the scientific community," said Ben Cuker, a marine science professor at Hampton University who leads the program and has worked with Cutter on diversity issues for the last 10 years.

The program is named for two leaders who helped establish marine science education at Hampton University-the late professor Anita Hall and the retired dean of the School of Science, Robert Bonner. Bonner will speak at the ceremony.

For more information about the program contact Cutter at 683-4929 or gcutter@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: April 21, 2004

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.