The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was named after Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair who was born Oct. 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He attended North Carolina A&T State University and graduated magna cum laude. He earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and soon became recognized as an expert in laser physics. 

In 1986, the U.S. Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in recognition of McNair, who lost his life in the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in January of that year. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Education, Higher Education Programs, and is designed to increase the number of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority college students who pursue and complete a doctoral degree. Its long-range mission is to help increase the diversity of college and university faculties. 

There are 156 universities that offer McNair Programs across the country. Each program honors Dr. McNair's memory and his dedication to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and personal excellence.