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JCSU Receives Best in STEM Award

Charlotte, N.C. (July 15, 2014) – HBCU Digest has named Johnson C. Smith University Best STEM Program among historically black colleges and universities participating in the media outlet’s fourth annual awards ceremony. The honor was announced on July 11 during the 2014 HBCU Media Week presented by Dillard University. The two-day conference drew more than 40 HBCU communications executives, faculty members, presidents, alumni officers and vice-presidents from HBCUs around the nation.

To qualify for the award, the institution had to have earned significant media coverage for research, academic or professional development in the industry, or have demonstrated faculty or student excellence in a variety of STEM disciplines. The university was selected for the award among finalists Delaware State College of Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology, Fisk University Department of Life and Physical Sciences and Florida A&M University College of Science and Technology.

As an independent urban university, JCSU stands out in several STEM categories. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education ranked JCSU in the top one percent among all U.S. higher education institutions in graduating African Americans in computer science and information systems.

The university takes pride in the fact that about 50 percent of its graduates in the STEM disciplines are women, which more than doubles the national rate. One such graduate from JCSU is Aisha Davis from the class of 2013, who is blazing trails for women in computer science in her job at Microsoft Corporation. As a student, she worked on a cyber security project with the federal government. Junior computer engineering major Jheanelle Linton is among 74 students in the nation recognized as HBCU All-Stars of 2014 by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Much of JCSU’s recent success in STEM is based on its innovative vision to offer existing and future market-driven programs like cyber security, as well as renewable energy, homeland security, bioinformatics, medical informatics, analytics, big data, modeling and simulation and robotics. Students in these disciplines win awards for their research and participate in conferences early in their college years. Many go on to graduate school.

Notable alumni include Dr. Brian Jackson, class of 1996, who went on to be the first to earn a Ph.D. in computer engineering. Similarly, Dr. Nicki Washington, class of 2000, was the first to earn a Ph.D. in computer science.

The College of STEM at JCSU is undergoing an expansion with plans to increase the number of STEM graduates from 350 to 450 following the completion of a new $40 million science center in January 2015. “The new center will enable us to continue on our radical transformation of the STEM program from traditional to market-driven disciplines that will help move the nation forward while providing viable careers for our graduates,” said Dr. Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University.

The STEM program is also designed to serve the community through with projects like Sustainability Village. The innovative living-learning prototype incorporates academic coursework, service-learning activities and humanitarian work that can be replicated in Haiti and help solve the food desert issue on a local level. Twice recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative University, the project features an aquaponic garden that combines growing crops and cultivating fish in a closed loop environment.

Another outreach involves local African-American and Latino male high school students who are enrolled in the Charlotte’s Web technology mentoring initiative on campus. Through weekly mentoring by JCSU STEM students, the at-risk teens gain confidence and skills through computer technology training.

“This award speaks volumes about the positive outcomes we are seeing from the STEM program, which can be attributed to the hard work of faculty, staff and students,” said Dr. Magdy Attia, dean of the College of STEM. “You only have to look at this year’s graduation class to see the intellectual rigor demonstrated by our students. The top seven graduates in the Class of 2014, four of whom are female, have all earned a 4.0 and gone on to employment and graduate study in STEM fields.”


About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.


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