Message from Dean Karen Symms Gallagher

This message appeared in the Summer/Fall, 2011 issue of Rossier’s Futures in Urban Ed magazine:

Karen Symms Gallagher

Dean Karen Symms Gallagher

Dear Friends of Rossier,

PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS MADE IT CLEAR: “Strengthening STEM education — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — is vital to preparing our students to compete in the 21st century economy.”

He has identified three overarching priorities for STEM education, necessary for laying a new foundation for America’s future prosperity:

  • Increasing STEM literacy so all students can think critically in science, math, engineering and technology;
  • Improving the quality of math and science teaching so American students are no longer outperformed by those in other nations;
  • And expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.

The Rossier School is outpacing most Schools of Education in embracing this national priority, and this issue of Futures documents a remarkable roster of work that supports our President’s goals in STEM.

Rossier benefits from having a number of faculty members who have spent time teaching STEM subjects in K-12 classrooms. Gary Scott taught both math and science at the elementary and secondary levels, Fred Freking taught high school science, and Laila Hasan started her career as a middle school math and science teacher. While they have left their STEM classrooms, they are having an even greater impact by preparing new STEM teachers through our online and on-campus Master of Arts in Teaching program, which currently enrolls over 1,600 students — with over 200 of them in STEM fields — from all over the country.

I currently represent our school in a groundbreaking cross-sector partnership to reach President Obama’s goal of bringing 10,000 new STEM teachers into American classrooms in two years, and 100,000 in ten years. The online MAT@USC makes this an attainable aspiration.

Rossier is also leading the way to enhance our nation’s capacity in STEM fields by addressing challenges in higher education, such as growing the number of underrepresented minorities who pursue an education in STEM and enter STEM fields. The research of John Slaughter, Alicia Dowd, Tatiana Melguizo and Gisele Ragusa, for example, informs and impacts postsecondary STEM education.

Two of our newest faculty members bring unique perspectives to the school with their STEM research as it relates to educational psychology. Gale Sinatra’s work focuses on understanding the cognitive and motivational processes that lead to successful learning in science. The research of Brendesha Tynes, who will join us in January, explores African American girls’ gaming and computing as a gateway to STEM.

Rossier’s commitment to STEM education is perhaps epitomized by its leadership in the organization of a university-wide consortium to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and communication across schools for the most impactful research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

I welcome your involvement in this critical work.