Institute cites Henderson State’s support of African American physics students

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has selected Henderson State University as one of five high-performing universities in the United States working to increase the number of African Americans with bachelor’s degrees in physics.

AIP released its TEAM-UP Report, “The Time is Now: Systemic Changes to Increase African Americans with Bachelor’s Degrees in Physics and Astronomy,” in January 2020. This two-year research study included student surveys, department chair surveys, interviews with African American students, and site visits to five high-performing physics departments.

During the last two decades, the physics department at Henderson State has had 16 percent African American graduates (the national average for bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2016-2017 was 3.1 percent, according to AIP’s report).

“AIP’s mission was to determine the key factors supporting or diminishing African American physics major student success,” said Dr. Rick McDaniel, chair of Henderson’s Engineering and Physics department. “We are proud to be selected as one of the five high-performing physics departments.”

According to the American Institute of Physics report:

“The success of Henderson State University in graduating African American physics majors is based on a combination of practices implemented by caring faculty. Every undergraduate student participates in a faculty-guided research project; the Society of Physics Students chapter is very active and engaging; and students are actively involved with the community through the rocket club and the school’s observatory, which hosts school group tours. The advisement process is superb and includes a thorough early-alert contacting procedure with alternative methods of student support.”

For more information about Henderson’s Engineering and Physics program, go to