Plenary Speaker Profile (2002-3)
Kenneth Gerard Boutte, Sr.
Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University's Educational Pathway into the Biomedical Sciences - A Model Program

Xavier University of Louisiana is both a Catholic and a Historically Black University. In the years 1985 through 1988, Xavier had an average of 28 students per year who gained entry into biological science graduate or medical schools. By 2001, that number had grown to 112, more than triple the number in 1988. Xavier currently boasts an enrollment of more than 1500 students in science and mathematics disciplines, and over 700 pre-pharmacy and pharmacy students. Xavier is number one in the nation in:

  • placing African Americans into medical school (in the past nine years)
  • awarding the bachelors degree to African Americans in both the natural and physical sciences
  • producing African Americans earning the bachelor's degree in Physics
  • producing African American pharmacists (over 25% of the practicing African American registered pharmacists in this country)

Xavier graduates more students of any ethnic group with the bachelor's degree in chemistry than any school in the state of Louisiana. In addition, over 90% of the students who enter graduate or professional science schools earn their degrees.

These national records are not the result of attracting all bright, well-prepared students to Xavier's science programs; up to 20% of an entering freshman class may be composed of students with low standardized test scores and low high school grade point averages. Xavier's success comes from pre-college and campus programs that create an educational pathway for success in science, engineering, and mathematics without compromising standards.

In this talk, we shall discuss the policies and practices on which these initiatives are based, and the features of running a successful program to encourage and support the participation of African American students in the sciences.

Kenneth Boutte is the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Biology at Xavier University of Louisiana. He earned a Ph.D. in Immunoparasitology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983. He was the third African American in the department to earn a Ph.D. and the first African American in the department to earn a Ph.D. in the area of immunoparasitology.

Boutte's research interests have been in the host-parasite relationships of tapeworms and in the determination of the genetic sequence for the Trypanosoma gene which codes for trypanosome alternative oxidase as a target for chemotherapy. He was a Scholar in Residence at New York University in 1991 and 1992. He has served on the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board, the National Institutes of Health BRIDGES Grant Review Panel, the Higher Education Advisory Group for the National Educational Goals Panel, the Chancellor's Council for Tulane University's School of Medicine, and the Board of Directors for the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair

Boutte was the founder and director of the Ernest E. Just Pre-Graduate Scholars Program at Xavier, which was significant in increasing the number of science, and mathematics students who entered graduate school. He is involved with Xavier's Pre-Medical Program which is recognized as the leading producer in the nation of African American medical students. He is also involved and contributes to Xavier's Model Institution of Excellence program, a National Science Foundation funded program of $12.3 million which includes increasing the number of Xavier science, engineering, and mathematics (SEM) students who enter graduate school.