Press Release: White House Honors Graduate Center Alumnus for Mentoring Work

City University of New York Graduate Center alumnus Dr. Ashok Puri was honored by the White House as a recipient of a 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).  Dr. Puri received his doctorate from The Graduate Center's Ph.D. Program in Physics in 1988 and is currently University Research Professor in the department of physics at University of New Orleans.  While a doctoral student, Dr. Puri was mentored by Dr. Joseph Birman, Distinguished Professor of Physics at The City College, CUNY.  The award, which includes a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work, is supported and administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This year, there were 10 individual and one organizational awardees.

As stated in the NSF announcement of the award, Dr. Puri: Aworks to support the retention and matriculation of minority students at his university, as well as those children identified and served in K-12 outreach activities. Moreover, he supports the recruitment of students through participation in science fairs by visiting classrooms and conducting science demonstrations in public schools. Dr. Puri is regarded as sincerely and genuinely committed to students and their development. One of the greatest strengths of his mentoring program is the effort to systematically address under-preparation of undergraduate minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Dr. Puri has had outstanding success in matriculating minority and female students in STEM disciplines and in encouraging these students to pursue advanced degrees. When hurricane Katrina displaced Dr. Puri and his colleagues and students, he continued his work online from a temporary location in Texas, returning to New Orleans in February 2006.

PAESMEM honors individuals and institutions that have enhanced the participation of underrepresented groups--such as women, minorities and people with disabilities--in science, mathematics and engineering education at all levels. Since its inception in 1996, the PAESMEM program has recognized 97 individuals and 68 institutions. Each year's awardees add to the recognition of a widening network of outstanding mentors in the United States, assuring that tomorrow's scientists and engineers will better represent the nation's diverse population.  

Other 2005 awardees include: Alonzo Ashley of Stanford University; Sarwan Dhir of Fort Valley State University; Tanya Furman of Pennsylvania State University-University Park; Joseph A. Gardella, Jr., of the State University of New York at Buffalo; Rosemary Gillespie of the University of California, Berkeley; Jong Pil Lee Distinguished Service Professor of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury; David Pagni of the California State University, Fullerton; Cheryl Schrader of Boise State University; Sheryl Tucker of the University of Missouri, Columbia; and the University of California, Irvine's Minority Science Program.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York.  The only consortium of its kind in the nation, the school draws its faculty of more than 1,700 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges.     

Established in 1961, The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 4,000 students in 32 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  The Graduate Center also houses 28 research centers and institutes, administers the CUNY Baccalaureate Program as well as a number of other university-wide academic programs, and offers a wide range of intellectual and cultural programs of interest to the general public.

Submitted on: FEB 1, 2006

Category: Press Room