Gates’ scholarships to benefit local students

Andy Skemp

As criticisms surrounding affirmative action admission policies bounce around the halls of academia, a new scholarship program could help University minority students.
Software tycoon Bill Gates has provided opportunities for college-bound minorities, establishing a $1 billion scholarship endowment for minorities interested in the technology field.
The first Gates Millennium Scholarships will be handed out next fall. Tuition, room, board and expenses will be paid for 1,000 new students for each year of college. Graduate studies in education, engineering, math and science will also be funded.
Carol Nayematsu, executive director for the University’s Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, said she expects that the University will see its share of Gates Millennium Scholarship recipients in future years.
“I’m sure some students in Minnesota will apply, and some of those recipients will attend the University,” Nayematsu said.
Aside from national scholarships, some University groups provide independently funded scholarships for minority students.
Every one of the four cultural learning centers at the University — the Asian/Pacific, the Chicano/Latino, the African-American and the American Indian — offer scholarships to students already attending the University.
However, the University doesn’t fund any scholarships targeted at specific ethnicities for first-year students, said Wayne Sigler, director of undergraduate admissions.
“The scholarships for incoming freshman are targeted at all students. We might take into consideration enhancing diversity — broadly defined, considering things like racial diversity, geographical diversity, special talent, special skills or financial need,” Sigler said.
Some scholarships for freshman, like the Kirby Puckett Scholarship, are targeted at students of color. The Office of Multicultural and Academic Affairs is one of many University affiliations that work for and encourage such scholarships.
“If someone wants to donate a certain amount of money for a certain group, that’s their privilege to do so. Our goal is to try to get as much support as we can for a full array of students so we can have a diverse student body,” said Geoffrey Maruyama, assistant vice president of multicultural and academic affairs.
The Gates Millennium Scholarship program will be run by the United Negro Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and American Indian College Fund.
These three organizations were selected because the racial minorities they represent are those most lacking in the technology field. Asian students would typically be exempt from the scholarship.
“When you take the whole scope of Asians involved in technology, we are not underrepresented,” Nayematsu said.

Andy Skemp welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3238.