Forbes magazine has listed Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota as the top school for minorities in science, technology, engineering and math.
Forbes compared blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians (groups typically underrepresented in STEM) to whites and Asians (groups typically well-represented). While SMUM does not have a large population of minority students, 35% received degrees in STEM in 2008, which is higher than the 10% average for colleges.
The magazine credits the Lasallian tradition as a contributing factor and mentions St. John Baptist de La Salle’s emphasis on educating the poor. “We take that very seriously. We’re self-consciously not an elite campus,” Thomas Mans, Ph.D., professor of social science and director of college assessment, told Forbes. “It makes it really good for kids who are first-generation, for kids who are coming from modest backgrounds.”
Forbes quoted Mans as saying the University knows STEM careers are great and that message is relayed to students. “The campus environment is really supportive. There is this sense that part of our mission is to find kids with potential and to make it work for them when it may not have worked for them somewhere else,” Mans said.
Forbes split its STEM rankings into the best colleges for women and the best for minorities. It did not include colleges that are almost entirely comprised of women or minorities.