McNair at ISU

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, named for Dr. Ronald E. McNair, encourages low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented undergraduates to pursue graduate studies. The overall goal is to increase the number of students from these populations obtaining the PhD. The intent of the program is to honor the high standards of achievement demonstrated by Dr. McNair.

The first McNair grant was awarded to Iowa State University in 1995 under the administration of Dr. George A. Jackson who wrote the successful proposal. Dr. Jackson at that time was the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and had already written a successful proposal for another TRiO Program, Student Support Services. Over the years, the McNair Program has served over 400 students.

In 2012, federal funding for the McNair Program ended. After an outpouring of support from current scholars, McNair alums and faculty, an internal proposal was approved by the Provost and Dean of the Graduate College, Dr. David Holger, in June 2013, to provide financial support to continue the program through 2017. In the 2017 application competitition of the US Department of Education, the McNair Program was awarded funding and reinstated as a Federal TRIO Program. 



Who was Ronald E. McNair?

Ronald Erwin McNair was born in Lake City, South Carolina. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina A&T State University and earned a PhD in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology by age 26. After MIT, Dr. McNair joined Hughes Research Laboratories as a physicist. Two years later he became an astronaut candidate with NASA. By 1979, he had qualified for an assignment as a mission specialist astronaut on space shuttle flight crews. Dr. McNair died on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.