Recent Developments Mark Progress in Advancing University STEM Initiative
The STEM initiative is an exciting, complex undertaking to promote discovery and innovation across science, mathematics, and engineering. Below are some of the developments that have occurred since my last update in April.
Convergence Grants Awarded
In spring 2016, seven cross-disciplinary teams, each including at least one faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences and one from the School of Engineering, received funding to advance convergence projects in teaching and research. The STEM Convergence Grant Program fosters collaborative partnerships across science and engineering to advance scientific discovery and technological innovation in broad service of humanity. The grants are funded through an anonymous gift supporting STEM planning efforts, including faculty and staff participation in conferences, visits to other campuses, and on-campus STEM events.
Diversity Working Paper
As mentioned in the spring, the STEM Working Committee facilitated a series of conversations about promoting student persistence and diversity in STEM. Their working paper, which includes several recommendations generated with help from the STEM community, is available on the STEM 2020 site. Conversations about increasing diversity in STEM continue to be a priority and align with other campus-wide efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.
Over the summer, the STEM Executive Committee improved upon the facility space program developed by HOK, the international design firm that worked with faculty and staff to lead visioning and programming in 2014-15. Changes were informed by recommendations from David O'Brien of Anderson-Brule Architects (ABA), who led the firm's assessment of the HOK program. In the fall, many STEM faculty and staff attended one of two town halls to hear the findings and recommendations from ABA’s review of the teaching space program and the department spaces.
We are now transitioning from programming to design. Over the next two months, I will be meeting with each STEM department to respond to any questions that faculty and staff may have about the project.
STEM leadership considered over a dozen architectural firms before selecting five semi-finalists. Debbie Tahmassebi (Dean of the College), Godfrey Mungal (Dean of the School of Engineering), Chris Shay (Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration), and Don Akerland (Director of Planning and Projects) visited the semi-finalists. The group selected two finalists who traveled to Santa Clara to present to a panel including the president, myself, other STEM leaders, and members of the Trustee Facilities Master Planning Committee. After an extensive interview process, I am pleased to share that ZGF Architects and RFD will design the STEM facility.
STEM Committee Appointments
The Academic Planning Team, which was appointed in June 2016, will coordinate and lead the work of three subcommittees. The deans of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering recently solicited nominations for these groups, which will address:
(a) how we will implement the STEM vision in our curricula and co-curricula,
(b) the physical spaces we will need to fulfill the STEM vision, and
(c) the administrative structure and operational policies that we will need to have in place to successfully operate our programs.
The STEM2020 site includes more detailed descriptions of the subcommittees and will eventually list the members of each subcommittee.
As you can see, the project is a major undertaking with many moving parts. I welcome suggestions about how to be more inclusive and transparent in planning for the STEM initiative.