Jeanne HigbeeGail Ghere says the scholarship aligns with who her late husband was and how he cared about students.

Building the next generation of scholars

Scholarship supports TRIO McNair Scholars

David Ghere was passionate about helping college students learn and supporting their transition into professional life. As the first in his family to attend college, he was a champion of and mentor to underserved students. For two decades, he taught history in General College and later the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, working with the population he loved.

When he passed away in 2010, Dave’s colleague Jeanne Higbee started a fund in his memory. Today, thanks to additional gifts from his family and friends, the David Ghere Memorial Scholarship supports students in the TRIO McNair Scholars program.

Underrepresented students account for just 10 percent of PhDs in the United States, and the federally funded McNair Scholars program works to improve that by providing graduate school preparation and research opportunities for students who are of low income, first-generation, and underrepresented backgrounds. Named for American astronaut and physicist Ronald E. McNair, the program incorporates advising, an apprenticeship with a faculty mentor, networking, and public presentations of research to increase the diversity of students who pursue education beyond a bachelor’s degree. CEHD hosts one of the oldest McNair programs in the country, helping build the next generation of scholars and industry leaders for 30 years.

“We take for granted that students have access to the experiences, resources, and mentors to advance their academic career, but many may not,” says Dave’s widow, Gail (pictured). “McNair addresses that inequity and helps students see themselves on a professional path that fits their interest.” 

Dave was a strong supporter of TRIO students, and fit the profile of a McNair scholar when he was a student. McNair director Anthony Albecker says, “This work is high stakes. McNair alumni are contributing to research that is finding cures to diseases and generating innovation. The Ghere scholarship opens a door to allow more students to maximize their potential, just as Dave wanted.” 

Gail agrees, saying, “The scholarship aligns with who he was, and how he cared about students as learners. The pandemic illustrated how easily one’s education can be derailed, and funds like this provide a bridge to the next stage. I’m gratified that the current class is persisting during this time, despite the many barriers they are facing.”

Story by Ann Dingman | Photo by Mark Basel | Winter 2021

To learn more and support the Ghere scholarship, visit cehd.umn.edu/trio/mcnair/ghere-scholarship/.