Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Education
The State of Texas has reiterated the need to maintain the trajectory for providing all Texans with greater access to higher education and has recently tightened its focus on the need to improve graduation rates as well. At the same time, data indicate that Texas’ institutions of higher education are not meeting the targets for graduates in STEM fields that were established as part of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's “Closing the Gaps” plan. Indeed, the importance of increasing the number of STEM graduates has been emphasized by numerous reports at both the state and national levels.
In 2010, Texas A&M University’s strategic plan set the goal of increasing graduation rates while maintaining enrollment. We are now extending that goal in a way that will also increase the number of STEM graduates. Each of our colleges has committed to achieving stronger persistence and graduation rates and several colleges have committed to improving those rates while also expanding their enrollment. In particular, the Dwight Look College of Engineering plans to more than double its enrollment so that there are 25,000 students enrolled in the College by 2025.
Throughout our 137-year history as a public, land grant, tier-one research university that has excelled at instruction, discovery and service in engineering, agriculture and science education, Texas A&M has remained at the forefront of STEM education. Today, combined with our faculty strength and modern collaborations among architecture, educational psychology and philosophy, computer science, geosciences, life sciences, policy, visualization and other science and complimentary fields, we are well positioned to build on our success. Additionally, our development of robust student learning outcomes, applied and assessed as an integral part of our current 10-year Quality Enhancement Plan: Aggies Commit to Learning for a Lifetime; and the promise of our action-oriented “education first” strategic initiatives, outlined in our current 5-year strategic plan, illustrateTexas A&M’s strong heritage and bright future as a global leader in higher education.
We are committed to fostering advancements in the way that STEM education is delivered, assessed and applied, and to ensuring that such efforts are institutionalized in the very fabric of our departmental cultures. From experience, we know that all too often those who innovate today become impediments to future innovation as they work to preserve the innovations they put in place. Although aspects of the culture of scholarly research have developed “antibodies” to reduce the resistance to innovate, the academy has not developed sufficiently strong “antibodies” to reduce resistance to innovate in pedagogy and the curricula.
To this end the faculty of Texas A&M has renewed its commitment to an ecosystem of STEM education. Interdisciplinary initiatives are underway across the university, and we recently submitted to the American Association of Universities (AAU) a collaborative proposal outlining our transformative plan to become a recognized STEM Project Site.
Read the letters of commitment here.
I hope you will review these commitments as well as some of the stories that will be appearing on this site regularly to learn more about our STEM efforts. We welcome your partnership and personal commitment.
Karan Watson PhD, PE
Provost and Executive Vice President
Texas A&M University