Thank you to Legislators
Independent Colleges of Washington wants to thank the members of the Legislature for all their hard work this year!
The state's continuing budget squeeze has already dealt serious blows to the higher education budget in Washington over the past three years. Public college funding cuts have been deep, and even vital student financial aid programs have been slashed - from a cut of two-thirds in the budget for the State Work Study program, to suspension of many smaller financial aid programs.
Funding for the State Need Grant has been under pressure as well, and has not kept up with growing numbers of needy college students. But protecting access to higher education for Washington residents regardless of their incomes is vital to our future and to the kind of society we value.
So this year the Legislature said “NO!” to further cuts in higher education, including student financial assistance. We are grateful to see the final 2012 supplemental budget approved this month maintained current funding for education, higher education and student financial aid.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all the Members of the Legislature for standing up for access to education in the 2012 legislative session!
Senator Conway receives McNaughton Award
At its Board meeting in April, Independent Colleges of Washington honored Senator Steve Conway by presenting him the Stanley O. McNaughton Leadership Award for 2011. This award is presented annually to recognize companies, legislators and other leaders who have demonstrated passion for and commitment to Washington's independent colleges and universities. Recent recipients include the Anderson Foundation and Senator Mike Hewitt.
Conway was selected for his long-standing support of our colleges and our students, including through his strong advocacy for funding student financial aid programs such as Work Study and the State Need Grant. Conway's advocacy for student aid has been instrumental over the past few years in reducing or avoiding budget cuts for these vital programs. Senator Steve Conway - thank you for all you do!
Need More STEM Degrees?
Independent Colleges Are Part of the Solution!
State policymakers, business leaders, researchers and others have been clamoring for expansion of degree production in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and health care professions. The state supplemental budget just passed by the Legislature, UW and WSU each received $3.8 million for expanding enrollments in engineering and computer science degree programs. The four public regional/ comprehensive institutions all received new funding to expand enrollment in STEM fields. ICW member non-profit liberal arts colleges stand ready to assist the state to achieve goals for expanded STEM and health care degree production.
In addition to all our colleges are doing today, as illustrated in this newsletter, our colleges can do more in the future to increase the number of STEM and health care degrees awarded to Washington's future leaders and innovators. We are part of the solution!
Behind each of the 40,000 students and 200,000 alumni of our ten member colleges are academic supports: over 3,000 faculty and 250 programs that inspire, encourage and challenge students. Programs are carefully and deliberately developed to respond to the long-term needs of our society and workforce.
For instance, Whitworth University's 2021 strategic plan calls for deepening its liberal arts education by supporting interdisciplinary scholarship and programs that equip students and faculty to connect ideas across multiple disciplines, to expand boundaries of knowledge, and to address complex contemporary problems. In this spirit, Whitworth has introduced a new interdisciplinary Bachelor's of Science degree in bioinformatics. The program brings together the fields of computer science, molecular biology, biochemistry, math, and medicine to help researchers generate new knowledge and insights into everything from genetics to the development of new medicines and treatments. Whitworth recently received a $15,000 grant from the Empire Health Foundation for research on Celiac disease, which it is conducting in collaboration with students enrolled in Project Lead the Way at Spokane's North Central High School.
Professors at independent colleges utilize the classroom and laboratory to teach using traditional and proven teaching methods, as well as using innovative facilities, techniques, and technologies to enhance learning. Our professors' primary focus is teaching the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, and health care practitioners. Nearly all professors have a terminal degree, and there are no graduate assistants teaching courses.
Beyond the compliments our faculty receive from students and peers, they are often recognized externally as top professors in their field. Professors at ICW colleges have received six of the last eight Washington “Professor of the Year” awards by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), including this year's recipient: Seattle University professor of chemistry Vicky Minderhout.
Professor Minderhout's teaching technique has significantly changed teaching at Seattle University and at institutions across the country. In 1997, she took her two decades of traditional classroom and lab teaching experience and devised a teaching method, known as guided inquiry learning, where students are assembled into small learning groups to learn and experience chemistry. With 15 years of experience and data from this lecture-free method, there is ample evidence of its effectiveness both in educating and engaging students across disciplines.
Engaged and interesting mathematics professors are an absolute necessity, as undergraduates at liberal arts colleges must have college-level math proficiency in order to graduate.
Walla Walla University professor Tom Thompson, 44-year professor of mathematics at Walla Walla University (and 1971 graduate) will be recognized this weekend by the Mathematical Association of America with the Pacific Northwest Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. The MAA has approximately 20,000 members nationwide, including about 800 in the Northwest, spread throughout five U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. Professor Thompson teaches courses ranging from a Survey of Calculus and Complex Variables to the History of Mathematics and Science and the Arts “I really enjoy trying to hook students on a subject that many of them are required to take for another discipline,” he began. “When you can toss out extra problems, some easy, and some more challenging, and get students of a wide variety of abilities to latch onto them, it really doesn't get better than that! I tell my students that I am so lucky, Walla Walla is my alma mater and... I get to do that which seems to suit me exactly. I wake up in the morning and look forward with relish to what I am privileged to do that day - teach mathematics, maybe even change attitudes,” Thompson said.
Saint Martin's University started a new initiative last year as any good engineer would: with careful planning and deliberate action. Ground has been broken on a new state-of- the-art building and Dr. Zella Kahn-Jetter was appointed as the the new Dean of the School of Engineering. Saint Martin's School of Engineering is poised to be a top-notch contributor to Washington's pool of civil and mechanical engineers and engineering managers, a field estimated to require 56,000 employees with bachelor's and higher degrees by 2018.
Enhancing students' talents through hands on research
STEM students master the essential techniques, facts and figures of their field, but a rigorous liberal arts education requires much more, and our students emerge with deep experience in analysis, criticism, and synthesis of new concepts and theories. This is crucial in a world that is rapidly changing in knowledge and application. The opportunity to conduct independent research broadens perspectives, deepens understanding and fosters success.
The boundaries between academic ambition and academic calendars are often blurred as students conduct research over summers and term breaks.
University of Puget Sound's Summer Research Grants program offers summer grants for 50 - 60 student and faculty research projects in subjects such as physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, exercise science, and geology. Last summer Eric Laukkanen ('14), a “physicsphile”, researched the modeling and tuning of musical percussive beams, alongside Professor Rand Worland. Kristen Delwiche ('12), an avid biochemistry student advised by Professor Amy Odegard, spent her summer with the flock house virus, studying how “non-enveloped' viruses enter and infect cells. This summer on-campus housing for researchers is available. “We want to make summer research a transformational and highly engaging experience, by encouraging students to share their ideas,” said Associate Dean Sarah Moore.
Pacific Lutheran University truly embodies global scientific inquiry by encouraging research opportunities on all seven continents. Rather than conduct research in more temperate climates, PLU junior Matthew Heglund joined geosciences professor Claire Todd as a PLU undergraduate research assistant to study the glacial history in Antarctica. For the past four years, Professor Todd has joined the NSF-funded research team with a PLU student. For 40 days (there are no nights) during winter break and January term, the team used advanced techniques and equipment in sub-zero temperatures to track the thinning and of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the surrounding sea level. Boxes of collected specimens returned with the duo to allow further geological study and inquiry by PLU students unable to conduct ‘On-Ice' research.
Inspiring young students to pursue college and the sciences
In order to have future scientists in the post-secondary educational pipeline, enthusiasm needs to be developed in the elementary, middle, and high-school years. One approach is to provide professional development to teachers and help them to enliven course materials and delivery. Another is to bring K-12 students to the college, and send college students into the K-12 classroom.
Whitman College has taken both approaches with their implementation of a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This grant served to strengthen on-campus resources in the life sciences, fund student research, and to actively build partnerships with Walla Walla area middle schools. Towards this latter goal, Whitman science majors volunteer in area science classrooms, a Science Fair will be held on April 22nd, and the Summer Institute and Workshop Series for Middle School Science Teachers has provided ongoing professional development to a returning cohort of 13-15 middle-school science teachers. The professor-led workshops range from “Catastrophic Events in Earth and Space Science” to “Thinking Big and Small” with particle physicist Professor Moira Gresham addressing the questions students ask teachers about the size of the universe and our place within it. All of the workshops, including the summer institute, are focused on addressing the state learning targets in science, local curriculum and teacher interests.
Gonzaga University's Science in Summer! program recently received a Washington STEM Entrepreneur Award, which includes a $10,000 grant. The project will be a summer residency experience for high school students and a teacher from communities traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, including predominantly Native American and rural school districts. The students will work on a research project of their own design with support from Gonzaga faculty. The program will provide a local high school science teacher with the lab experience and training necessary to take research projects back into the classroom to benefit even more students. The project dovetails into the Science in Action! program which places pre-service teachers, biology and chemistry majors in elementary classrooms to conduct weekly science experiments and activities that align with the school district's curriculum.
K-12 physics is being electrified by Seattle Pacific University's Energy Project, a multi-year research effort aimed at learning how to best teach energy in the classroom. The project works closely with elementary and secondary science teachers, offering professional development opportunities for upper-elementary and secondary teachers, including multi-week courses over the summer and an evening seminar during the school year. The project also hosts 16 STEM education research scholars from across the US to observe the teachers participating in the professional development courses: it is an active meta-laboratory of researchers observing teachers learning alongside professors how to relate energy to students. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation through a Discovery Research K-12 grant and involves a partnership of Seattle Pacific University (SPU), FACET Innovations, and Washington state school districts.
The first annual Science and Engineering Festival and STEM Student Showcase brought over 1,600 students from across the Yakima Valley to rally behind their favorite Robotics teams from 13 area schools, and learn from over 70 exhibitions. Co-sponsored by Heritage University, Educational Service District 105 (Superintendent Steve Myers is an ICW board member), and the University of Washington, the event introduced the students - and 500 family and community members- to the variety of academic and career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Health Care.
Gifts for Math and Science Students Measure Up
Fluke Corporation, Puget Sound Energy Encourage Hands-on Learning
Let's face it - classroom lectures and reading from books can only offer students a glimpse of what it must be like to work in a ‘real world' setting. For most of us, it's the hands-on experiences learned in a science lab, being part of a research study team, or even as a community service volunteer that really makes learning come alive.
ICW has been fortunate to receive the support of two companies in the Puget Sound region which have been providing unique learning opportunities to students each year - Fluke Corporation and Puget Sound Energy.
Since 1989, the Fluke Corporation has helped science and engineering students receive valuable hands-on experiences using new tools and equipment donated to five ICW colleges each year. “Fluke products are an essential part of their academic activities and learned skills when building, troubleshooting, and making measurements to their assigned laboratory circuit projects”, explains Seattle University's Gary Fernandes, Lab Manager in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. This experience often gives students an advantage over the competition when entering the job market, as they can demonstrate a level of proficiency to prospective employers having used some of the latest technology available.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has been an ardent supporter of ICW colleges and students for 51 years. Early on, PSE invested in our students by providing needed scholarship dollars. In 2004 PSE initiated a new project that funded a friendly competition among our five colleges in western Washington, inviting students to submit a research proposal addressing the topic of energy efficiency and conservation. This year, Seattle Pacific University was selected to receive $10,000 to conduct their project. Working under the supervision of faculty member Elaine Scott, five students will research, design, build, and test a device that will help reduce homeowners' energy consumption. But as one SPU student who is working on this project explains, “This project gives us an opportunity to gain skills like working as a team on different aspects of a project that is constrained by a real budget and time frame.” The students will present the results of their 10-month research efforts to a panel of PSE employees in fall 2012.
Math and Science Scholarships - A Wise Investment for Washington's Future
Do you or your company have a vested interest in the future growth of our region and state, particularly in the areas of math and science? A well-educated and plentiful workforce is the key to a healthy and diverse Washington economy, especially with the rapid expansion of the bio-science and technology industries in the Puget Sound region.
The 10 ICW colleges are responding to the call for more students with advanced training in math and the sciences. Each year, our colleges on average contribute 23% of science, 35% of nursing, 20% of engineering, and 35% of math bachelors and advanced degrees in the state. But with the cost of education increasing, and the available financial aid decreasing on both the state and federal levels, the need for student scholarships is urgent.
For a minimum investment of $10,000, a named scholarship can be established and designated for scholarships benefitting students majoring in STEM and health fields. One hundred percent of this gift will be distributed equally to 10 ICW member colleges in your name, name of your company or another title of your choosing. You also set the criteria for awarding the scholarship.
Gifts at a lower amount can also be contributed and will be held in trust until a minimum amount is reached for distribution to our colleges. Scholarships may be funded over a period of three years until the desired dollar level is reached.
Please contact Anne Cassidy to discuss the options that are available to you or call her at 206/623-4494 to have your questions answered. ICW is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All gifts may be tax deductible.
Math and Science All-Stars
More than 20% of ICW's resident undergraduates receive the State Need Grant last year, and Student Aid All-Stars have volunteered to share their stories working to overcome one of the most significant barriers to college access, persistence, and success: family income. About 28% of our 2011-12 All-Stars are pursuing STEM and Health Care degrees, and here are representatives from each ICW member college: