February 23, 2001


David Artis `Reaches Out' Beyond Academics as New Director of Academic Enrichment Programs

Seemingly a bit embarrassed, David Artis, Ph.D., glances at the empty shelf space in his office at the University of California, San Diego. "Most of my reference books are still in transit," he says.



David Artis (seated with tie) meets in an academic counseling session with UCSD students (from left to right) Jesus Gonzales, Brian Young, Karla Macias and Joanne Gabot.

The new director of Academic Enrichment Programs (AEP) may have to wait a while longer for the last of his belongings to arrive from their previous location in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but he has already begun delving into his job of establishing a more supportive academic environment for UCSD's increasingly diverse student population who aspire to attend graduate school.

Artis, former director of Academic Services at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, will oversee a wide range of research-oriented academic preparation programs for more than 1,500 UCSD undergraduates in various fields of study. These programs are designed to encourage such students to pursue Ph.D.'s M.D.'s and other advanced degrees in research.

In the process, Artis will also reach out to underrepresented students at UCSD and in the community to inform them of graduate preparation initiatives that the University is implementing for undergraduates.

"AEP is a resource," he says, "a vehicle for academic success and advancement in a very demanding environment. The sooner all students know we can help them to get the most out college and prepare for graduate or professional school, the better."

He adds: "And if we can help show prospective students that UCSD supports students academically from freshman year to grad school, I'll be thrilled."

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

All AEP programs emphasize active student participation in academic research, whether in a laboratory or a library. Under faculty supervision, students have a rare opportunity to experience first-hand the challenges and triumphs of scholarly research. "These programs," Artis says, "improve the student's academic abilities immediately and make them more attractive candidates for graduate or professional school." He also believes the programs help students make better decisions about which career path to choose.

"Because most of our programs require a serious time commitment and high-level research, we have generally worked with upper-level students," Artis continues. "But I really want to reach out to all our potential students—those in high school and middle school who think they might be interested in higher education—to encourage them to keep dreaming big dreams."

"One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job," he says, "is working with UCSD's other support and outreach programs. I really appreciate the ties they have to our students and to the community. Together, we can do a good job of spreading the word about support services, and research opportunities available to undergraduates at UCSD."

Making Every Student Feel Welcome in a Demanding Environment

Artis intends to focus many of his outreach efforts on disadvantaged students and those from underrepresented groups. "Even very talented students," he indicates, "can be affected by an environment that is very different from their home communities. If such students feel isolated or overly conspicuous, their work often suffers, which in turn, may later keep them from being admitted to the graduate school of their choice. We want every student here to feel welcome and to know we're excited about their potential."

Artis, who earned his bach-elor's degree from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Stanford, notes that "Hispanic Americans, African Americans and American Indians have long remained underrepresented in academic and professional positions," especially those in math and science.

The AEP staff, he says, is greatly motivated by the impact that its programs have had. "For example, 15 of our Mc-Nair Program graduates have received a Ph.D., so we feel we've already created a grad school pipeline, and we can't wait to see what our AEP grads do once they're on university faculties or in the professions."

A former assistant professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, Artis is particularly grateful to the local health professionals and UCSD faculty members who serve as mentors and supervisors in AEP's programs. "They are developing the next generation of research talent," he says.

Enrichment programs offered by AEP include:

Faculty Mentor Program — offers research experience to any junior or senior with a grade point average of at least 2.7. Participants earn academic credit while working as research assistants to UCSD faculty members for two quarters. Students write and present a paper on their research topic.

California Alliance for Minority Participation to Science, Engineering and Mathematics Program (CAMP) — designed to provide support to underrepre-sented minority students who are seeking bachelor's degrees in chemistry, physics or other sciences. Each quarter, participants visit a local company or research institution where students meet research scientists and tour the facilities. In addition, the program offers informational and skill-building workshops, and during a special eight-week summer program (which includes a $2,800 fellowship award), students work as research assistants on projects supervised by a faculty mentor.

Health Professions Program — assists students in preparing for such health careers as medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health and pharmacy. Program activities include seminars, a volunteer referral service, mentorship opportunities and regular peer discussion groups. Scholarships are available to help offset the costs of professional school entrance exam preparation courses.

McNair Program — a Ph.D. preparatory program named for Ronald E. McNair, a nationally recognized African American physicist who was one of the seven crew members killed in the space shuttle Challenger disaster. The McNair Program at UCSD is intended to provide low-income, first-generation college students, and students from groups underre-presented in graduate education, with effective preparation for doctoral study. This is a competitive one-year program administered through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. McNair scholars receive academic year research placement; a full-time faculty-supervised summer research experience; $2,800 in fellowship support, GRE preparation, and other benefits.

Summer Research Program — offers a full-time, eight-week research experience with a faculty mentor to students interested in preparing for careers in research of university teaching. Includes $2,800 fellowship.

UCSD Undergraduate Research Conference — an annual event in which more than 100 undergraduates who have written outstanding research papers are invited to present their work. Invitation is by faculty nomination.

Graduate School Application Award — a $500 award given to assist students with the cost of application fees for graduate school. The award is open to students who have been active in UCSD's Academic Enrichment Programs and who are applying to doctoral programs (Ph.D., M.D., or J.D.) and to academic masters programs.

For more information on UCSD Academic Enrichment Programs (AEP), please call the AEP office at 858-534-1774.

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