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Published on May 03, 2023

Final Thoughts

Kenneth DeLisa
Kenneth DeLisa

Students at Eastern Connecticut State University, regardless of major, gain broad intellectual skills applicable to any professional career — critical thinking, ethics, communication, quantitative literacy, collaboration. These skills are taught in our liberal arts core curriculum and across more than 40 Eastern majors.

One area I would like to focus on is STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM jobs will outpace other industry sectors in Connecticut the rest of this decade, with 18,000 new jobs to be filled, a 16 percent increase from 2020 to 2030. Employers in our state and across the nation are voicing concerns about filling these positions, which enjoy a median salary more than double that of jobs in other economic sectors.

Of particular note are the lack of women and minorities in STEM careers. Women account for less than 30 percent of all STEM jobs in America. While African Americans represent 13.4 percent of the population, they hold only nine percent of STEM positions. Latinos make up 16 percent of the population but fill only seven percent of STEM jobs. We need to do better as a nation, and Eastern is already doing its part. In the past five years, 51 percent of our STEM graduates have been women. 

At Eastern, we also have several grants targeting low-income students and minorities to support them moving into STEM careers. This spring, a grant from NASA is bringing local high school students to our campus to expose them to the opportunities found in science, math and technology. They are working with two Eastern professors to conduct health care research. A National Science Foundation grant of more than $650,000 is funding two cohorts of students — 11 students to date — as they pursue STEM careers during their four years at Eastern.

In addition to these grant programs, Eastern donors support STEM-related majors through a variety of scholarships. In addition to endowed scholarships for students in biochemistry, biology, computer science, environmental earth science, mathematics and physical science, donors such as Marc Freeman ’93 have created endowed scholarships to support students engaged in science-based research. Our new Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which is planned to start this coming fall, presents another opportunity for donors to support students in the health sciences.

I encourage anyone seeking ways to financially support Eastern students to consider helping our University respond to the call for more STEM graduates. You can donate to an existing scholarship or start your own. Our Office of Development staff are happy to assist. You can help students with unmet financial need fulfill their dream of a college education in a promising professional field. You also will be helping the state of Connecticut, our region and our country in preparing the skilled workforce we need to stay competitive in today’s global economy.

Eastern graduates students in dozens of career fields, and many of them fall beyond the scope of STEM — education, history, English, political science, psychology and more. We are equally proud of those students and will continue to support their career goals. We also need to respond to the challenge and opportunity that STEM presents us. By helping Eastern meet the challenge, you can give students additional opportunities for promising careers, students whose lives are forever changed by the generosity of Eastern donors. Thank you, as always, for your support.

Kenneth J. DeLisa

Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chief Human Resources Officer  

Written by Kenneth J. DeLisa