University News

WIU Women In Science Program Strives to Improve Retention

March 25, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University College of Arts and Sciences is developing a new program to provide encouragement for women studying in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields through Western's academic programs.

The Western Illinois University Women in Science (WIU-WIS) program is being designed to improve retention of students who enter WIU in one of the STEM fields. The program is being helped by a 1984 WIU alumna Susan Buta, who along with her husband, Paul, have donated a lead gift of $10,000 to help start the program.

WIU Department of Chemistry Chair Rose McConnell said the donation will help us to offer scholarships to female undergraduate and graduate students majoring in a STEM discipline who would like to conduct scientific research.

"We would also like female faculty members or alumni to come to campus to talk with the students about why they got into science and the challenges they faced," McConnell said.

The WIU-WIS program would also match female STEM students with WIU female science and math faculty members who will serve as a mentor. The faculty-student teams would then attend seminars together, and the mentor can aid the student in career counseling and furthering her academic career.

A meeting for students interested in joining the WIU-WIS program will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31 in Currens 202.

McConnell said the hope is that the WIU-WIS program can grow and partner with student organizations and that a living-learning community for STEM majors can be developed in WIU's residence halls.

"We hope this program helps with retention of students in the University's STEM programs," McConnell said. "We also hope to develop additional support programs to recruit women faculty in STEM."

Another component of the WIU-WIS program, as it develops further, McConnell said, is to involve juniors and seniors from regional high schools to show what WIU has to offer STEM students.

The issue of women in science is important to McConnell. When she was an undergraduate at Arkansas State University, she was the only female chemistry major at the school.

For more information about WIU-WIS, contact McConnell at or call (309) 298-1538.

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