University of Minnesota part of new nationwide initiative to attract and retain first-year students to STEM majors

The University of Minnesota announced today that it is one of only 10 universities nationwide that are part of a new University Innovation Freshmen (#uifresh) initiative aimed at attracting and retaining more incoming students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

The #uifresh campaign is part of a White House collection of initiatives to further enhance STEM in the United States that were announced this week by President Barack Obama. The program is launched by the University Innovation Fellows program, which is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), funded by the National Science Foundation, and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.

According to a report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, about 60 percent of students who arrive at college intending to major in STEM subjects switch to other subjects, often in their first year.

The #uifresh initiative will expose students to a variety of experiences in design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation to increase retention. The Fellows are working with their institutions’ leaders and orientation week organizers to provide learning opportunities that are fun, experiential, creative and lead to increased interest in innovation on campus.

Schools involved in the initiative to date include:

  • Clark Atlanta University 

  • Michigan Technological University 

  • NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering 

  • North Dakota State University 

  • Union College 

  • University of Florida 

  • University of Minnesota 

  • University of Oklahoma 

  • University of Virginia 

  • William Jewell College 

To learn more about the University Innovation Fellows and read the #uifresh initiative news release, visit

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