The Ronald McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program was established to provide funds to increase the number of Black and other minority students who pursue graduate degrees in STEM fields. Over the past two decades, thousands of Black students have benefitted from the McNair program.
Congress has cut funding for the McNair Scholars program from $46 million to $36 million. As a result, it is proposed that the number of campuses that will participate in the scholarship program will be reduced from 203 to 127. It is estimated that 2,000 fewer students will be able to participate.
A native of South Carolina, McNair graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in laser physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McNair was selected into the astronaut program in 1978 and in 1984 became the second African American to fly in space. McNair was killed in the Challenger disaster in 1986.