DENVER – President Barack Obama’s administration recognized the University of Colorado at Boulder Wednesday for its leadership in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education, and welcomed the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs into the fold of American universities that have increased their commitment to shaping the next generation of American innovators.
CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano and UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak were at the White House Wednesday for the announcement of a major initiative to expand the president’s Educate to Innovate campaign, a program aimed at fast-tracking the nation’s focus on STEM education.
At the event, DiStefano accepted an honor for CU-Boulder’s comprehensive commitment to STEM education, and was among the leaders of four public research universities who were asked to deliver a letter to President Obama, pledging to address the national shortage of science and mathematics teachers.
DiStefano and 78 other university leaders signed the letter, representing 120 members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or APLU. In the letter, the universities commit to the association’s Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative, which will strive to increase the number of new science and math teachers to more than 10,000 annually by 2015. CU-Boulder is among 39 institutions that have also pledged to at least double the number of science and math teachers graduated by 2015.
“President Obama’s recognition of our efforts to educate more science and math teachers is another mark of excellence for the CU community and the state of Colorado,” said CU President Bruce D. Benson. “I applaud our campuses for the recognition they have earned, and for challenging young people to go into fields that will advance our nation’s position as a world leader in innovation.”
At the White House event, Shockley-Zalabak represented UCCS as the Obama administration welcomed her campus and others into the latest cohort of universities to participate in UTeach, a renowned STEM program at the University of Texas. Both CU-Boulder and UCCS are now members of UTeach, and CU-Boulder has implemented its own program called CU Teach.
During the White House event, President Obama announced public and private investments of more than $250 million to help prepare 10,000 new math and science teachers and train more than 100,000 existing teachers. The plan is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to expand its Educate to Innovate campaign to improve science and math achievement among American students over the next decade.
The president also announced several new and innovative partnerships involving major companies, universities, foundations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies designed to attract, develop, reward and retain outstanding STEM educators.
In Colorado, CU is leading the charge with multiple STEM education programs across its campuses:
- CU-Boulder was one of only 13 teacher education programs in the nation awarded a grant in 2007 by the National Math and Science Initiative to model its CU Teach program after UTeach. In addition, the campus counts Nobel laureates and Distinguished Professors Carl Weiman and Thomas Cech among the faculty members dedicated to using innovative classroom instruction to encourage students to enter into science and math careers.
- UCCS is a burgeoning southern Colorado hub for STEM education, partnering with high-tech, military and government entities, and creating the nation’s first Bachelor of Innovation program.
- The University of Colorado Denver counts STEM programs among its hallmark academic offerings, and hosts the annual STEMapalooza, a hands-on science and math expo for elementary through high school students in Colorado.
The University of Colorado is a premier teaching and research university with four campuses: the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. More than 56,000 students are pursuing academic degrees on CU campuses. CU is ranked seventh among public institutions in federal research expenditures in engineering and science by the National Science Foundation. Academic prestige is marked by the university’s four Nobel laureates, seven MacArthur “genius” Fellows, 18 alumni astronauts and 19 Rhodes Scholars. For more information, go to www.cu.edu .