child doing math Worcester State University Center for STEM Research and Education

New Centers Established to Improve Community Connections

July 30, 2015
By: Christine Hickman

The School of Education, Health, and Natural Sciences (SEHNS) has established three new centers, which will better connect Worcester State initiatives to the community and position faculty and the University to attract external grant funding, according to SEHNS Dean Linda Larrivee.

The Center for STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) Research and Education will be directed by Prof. Daron Barnard, faculty member in the Biology Department. Its aim is to enhance student learning and success in the STEM fields by facilitating collaboration among disciplines and coordination of the many STEM-focused activities in the Chemistry, Biology, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Departments.

“The purpose of having such an institute,” says Larrivee, “ is to pool expertise and resources to address common concerns across WSU STEM programs. By doing so, the Center will promote excellence in STEM education.”

Two externally-funded programs are already contributing to the activities of the nascent Center: 1) a $40,000 STEM grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher EducationThe funding provides for supplemental instruction for entry-level courses into STEM fields, to ensure that more students are able to master that coursework and therefore persist in their pursuit of a STEM-related degree; and 2) a program for high school teachers and high school students on green chemistry. For two weeks in the summer, high school teachers and students from four local high schools came to campus and learned from WSU faculty about plastics, produce, laundry detergent, nail polish, and jewelry.  Funding and in-kind support from the Worcester State Foundation, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, the Fred Harris Daniels Foundation and the Worcester Regional Transit Authority supported the program.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Health Studies and Practice will be directed by Prof. Kelly Carlson, faculty member in the Nursing Department. Its aim is to enhance student learning and success in the health profession and other health-related fields, by facilitating collaboration among disciplines on cross-department initiatives and by interfacing with the local community on matters related to health policy and wellness.  The focus will be on public health systems, workforce development, and community partnerships, both on- and off-campus.  This center already is involved with the City of Worcester’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), with funding from the Fairlawn Foundation Fund at Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.

The Center for PreK-12 Initiatives in Education will be directed by SEHNS Associate Dean of Education Raynold Lewis. Its aim is to assure the seamless interface of all WSU PreK-12 initiatives; pool and share resources where applicable; assure quality and integrity in WSU PreK-12 initiatives; and facilitate coordination among disciplines on cross-departmental initiatives for research, program development, and program implementation.

“One goal,” says Larrivee, “is to ensure that Worcester State is serving the greater Worcester area’s educational community in an organized and beneficial manner.”

Dean Larrivee anticipates no new costs for the center in its inaugural year, and that out-year costs will be covered by grants secured under the Center’s auspices.

“These centers will provide linkages between classroom experiences and real-world learning, will leverage our distinctive strengths – in particular, our location by enhancing partnerships with Worcester’s public health department and school system, and aid in retention of our own students,” says Larrivee. “These Centers are strategically initiated in order to advance the strategic plan.”

One Comment

  1. Bob Lucier says:

    Excellent foresight time marches and keeping up with the educational opportunities for our future graduates keeps WSU up at the top.

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