Adedoyin M. Adeyiga helps lead an experiment for chemistry students (from left) Jasmine Smalls, Tyler Bowe, and Jessica LaRoda. Many alumni from his program at Cheyney University have gone on to graduate school. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

On the campus of Cheyney University, a school that is no stranger to financial hardship, professor Adedoyin M. Adeyiga is a rainmaker.

The African-born chemistry professor, whose father is a king in Nigeria, has secured more than $5 million in grants for programming to increase minority participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). An additional $1.35 million is pending.

Adeyiga, or “Dr. A.” as he is known on campus, works furiously to stop students from shunning a subject and career path that many consider scary and intimidating.

“It can be done,” Adeyiga, 43, said. And the reward is “a better chance at getting a job than in some other [college] majors,” he said.

The $5 million awarded since 2005 has been used to help establish scholarships, buy equipment, improve curriculum, hire faculty, and form relationships with other universities to give Cheyney students the chance to work in research labs across the region.

The programs have helped spur a growing number of the university’s STEM alumni to go on to graduate school.

This has happened against a backdrop that finds the historically black college founded in 1837 striving to improve worrisome overall graduation rates. At the same time, building renovations and new construction are under way on campus, crucial programs were saved when the state restored some funding in the last budget season, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education reaffirmed the school’s accreditation in March, rescinding a warning it had issued in 2009.

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