Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates →

Please click here for the latest information regarding Benedictine University's response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Benedictine to Offer More Opportunities to Minorities Through STEM Alliance

October 15, 2019

Benedictine University is part of an alliance of Chicago-area higher education institutions that has received a significant grant to support minorities majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This award will assist BenU in recruiting and retaining an increasingly diverse student population and help those students succeed in high-level careers.

The Promotion of Underrepresented Minorities in Academic STEM (PUMA-STEM) Alliance includes BenU, Elmhurst College, Concordia University Chicago, Dominican University, Lewis University, North Central College, Saint Xavier University and College of DuPage. The total grant allocation is $1.75 million, of which BenU will receive about $123,000.

BenU recently established a Center for Mission, Ministry, and Inclusion, and the PUMA-STEM Alliance will allow it to advance the Center’s initiatives in diversity and inclusion. Dr. LeeAnn Smith, who is currently the Summer Research Director, will serve as the faculty site coordinator for the Alliance. Other summer research mentors include Dr. Darya Aleinikava in Physics, Dr. Leigh Anne Harden, Dr. Jayashree Sarathy and Dr. Robert McCarthy in Biology, and Dr. David Rubush in Chemistry.

“Statistics show that there is great interest in science among underrepresented minorities in childhood, but as time progresses, some change their minds,” says Dr. Smith. “Through this grant, we are building a community of minority STEM students among all the institutions in the Alliance. We will be able to match students with peer mentors who can help them through the process.”

BenU’s grant includes funds to add summer research opportunities specifically for minority students.

“We are incredibly excited to use this funding to increase the number of minority students entering STEM programs,” says Charles Gregory, President of Benedictine University. “We are committed to the success of our students, and we look forward to seeing how we can expand our STEM research opportunities for both minorities and women.”


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Benedictine University was also named the second-safest campus in the country and safest campus in Illinois by in 2019. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information about the University, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

Marketing and Communications

Marketing and Communications
(630) 829-1948

Benedictine University Lisle Campus