Overview of the Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics
Prepared for Provost Timothy Chandler, October 17, 2012
The following highlights introducing the FCSM have been grouped into four categories: Academic Programs, College Culture, College Initiatives, and Points of Pride.
Serving nearly 2500 undergraduate majors and nearly 750 graduate students, every single FCSM major has grown disproportionally relative to the overall campus. From Fa2006 to Fa2011, TU undergraduate headcount grew by 14%. At the same time, FCSM undergraduate majors grew by 44% (by 40% if one counts only the first major). FCSM graduate students grew by 64%, while TU graduate headcount grew by only 11%. Finally, FCSM growth has been strong in nearly every major.
FCSM contains five departments: Mathematics; Computer and Information Sciences; Biological Sciences; Chemistry; and Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences. There are two interdisciplinary programs: Environmental Sciences and Studies; and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry & Bioinformatics (MBBB).
Program accreditations in computer science (ABET), professional chemistry (ACS), forensic science (FEPAC) and teacher education (NCATE), and designation as a National Security Agency Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
TU has a fairly unique model for teacher preparation, in that there are 10 science education faculty members and 12 math education faculty members in the FCSM. This requires a good collaborative working relationship with the College of Education. The two deans work very well together, and most FCSM-COE interactions are highly positive.
We value and support strong interdisciplinary programs - Environmental Sciences and Studies; MBBB- Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics; the School of Emerging Technologies; and the Urban Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory.
We are responding to workforce needs and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) needs, with Harford County offerings of the MS in Applied Information Technology (AIT), the BS in Information Technology (IT), and significant science education work with Harford County schools.
We’ve also responded to workforce needs with two Professional Science Masters – Forensic Science and Applied Physics.
FCSM is critical to TU’s Academic Mission: FCSM has a large GenEd/UCore contribution, provides a significant service role for health professions (the other college with greatly disproportionate enrollment growth), and close collaboration in teacher preparation with the College of Education.
We highlight student diversity and efforts to close the achievement gap, and have been successful in securing external support for programs including Towson Opportunities in STEM (TOPS) (NSF, $2 million for 5 years), Bridges to the Baccalaureate (NIH, $580,000 / 5 yrs), Cosmic Scholars (NSF, $588,000 / 5 yrs), and Physics Scholars (NSF, $319,000 / 5 yrs).
TU undergraduates are about 13.4% African-American. FCSM undergraduates are 18.6% African-American.
Our NSF ADVANCE grant aims to consider institutional changes that are needed to remove roadblocks for female faculty members.
We have a long tradition of targeted support for undergraduate student research and travel. Funds are provided from the FCSM budget, the Dean’s Discretionary Foundation Account and the Fisher Endowment. Beyond funding independent research projects with faculty mentors, the FCSM also funds group travel. One recent example was a trip to the Gulf Coast immediately following the BP oil spill so students could get an insider’s perspective on the environmental impact and monitoring efforts.
Faculty members integrate teaching and research and view both as equally important to our mission.
The STEM Leaders Club is composed of officers of all of the FCSM student clubs and serves in an advisory capacity for the Dean and also as a means to provide Leadership Development opportunities for our students.
Towson UTeach (2012). UTeach is a model to prepare secondary science and math students developed during the past decade at UT-Austin. With this model science and math students take a series of UTeach courses that integrate science and math content with pedagogical content. Thus, UTeach students are taken out of the normal secondary education classes that they otherwise would have taken along with all other secondary education majors (art, English, history, etc.). UTeach at UT-Austin has been very successful. Students graduate on time and those that enter teaching are remaining in teaching after five years at a much higher rate than is typical. The program has also grown very large as students are recruited to become UTeach majors, enticed by quite a few scholarships and internship stipends. UTeach is an expensive program and is largely supported at Austin by the likes of ExxonMobile.
For the last three or four years, nationwide UTeach replication has been emphasized, and TU is one of over 30 institutions to decide to replicate UTeach. This was in response to a State mandate: the Maryland State Department of Education obtained Race to the Top Federal funds and committed to fund one or two institutions in Maryland agreeing to try UTeach. We will receive $1.23 million of RTTT funds and these will supplemented with $620,000 of money from the National Math and Science Initiative, the organization managing the replication efforts. Of the total of $1.85 million (which covers four years), we have to pay $500k to the UTeach Institute at UT-Austin for licensing and technical assistance.
Towson UTeach is going to be tricky. It requires close collaboration between FCSM, COE and the MSDE. After four years, if successful and our projections are accurate, we will be responsible for maintaining a very expensive program – to the tune of $1.5 million annually. The system has expressed the intent to assist with a base increase of at least $300,000, but much more will be needed.
Launched the School of Emerging Technologies in October 2011. The SET was established within the FCSM as a stand-alone program dedicated to nurturing interdisciplinary academic programs and research programs that integrate emerging technologies (mostly digital, computing technologies). The SET is the academic home of the MS in AIT program. On the research front, the SET is seeding the following interdisciplinary research projects (with the disciplines involved):
Context Aware Assistive Solution for People with Cognitive Disabilities (Computer Science & Cook Library)
Big Data, Big Issues: Using Public Opinion Theory, Machine Learning, and Social Network Analysis to Explore Opinions and Information Flow Across Traditional and Social Media (Mass Communication & Computer Science)
Developing Prospective Teachers’ Questioning Skills through Interaction with a Virtual Interview Subject (Math Education & Computer and Information Science)
Perceived Credibility of Online Health Information (Kinesiology & Computer Science)
HydroCloud: An Online Integrative Tool for Hydrologic Data (Computer Science & Geography)
Voice Writing Center for Radio Captioning (Psychology & National Public Radio)
We have just been approved to create a STEM Residential Learning Community (a STEM dorm) in Fa2013. This represents a scale-up of two smaller residential community efforts that are ongoing: one connected with the TOPS program, and the other initiated by Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences.
Many efforts in STEM education and outreach seek to address the STEM pipeline. FCSM assets include the TU Center for STEM Excellence in the Columbus Center on the Inner Harbor; the Hackerman Academy of Math and Science headed by astronaut Don Thomas; and the STEM Education Center. External collaborations exist with surrounding school districts, the Baltimore County STEM Alliance, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, and the National Federation of the Blind (headquartered here in Baltimore). Some of our major programs are:
Outreach and Community Engagement
Bioscience Education and Outreach Program
Middle Grades Partnership
Promoting Engineering Education in Elementary Schools and Clubs
Curriculum Improvement, Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project
The SySTEmic Elementary Engineering Project
Middle School Physics Instruction and Readiness (MPIRE) Project
STEM - Teaching Community Project
We opened the TU Field Station in Monkton, MD, around 10 miles north of campus (2010). This 229-acre forested property is in conservation easement and is owned by TU alumnus Al Henneman. We negotiated a 5-year MOU to allow access for TU faculty, students, classes, and outreach activities.
We established the Glen Arboretum (2011) by creating the Glen Arboretum Board of Directors and providing them a modest annual budget. They are mapping trees, planting new trees, removing invasive plants, improving signage, etc. Five courses and 600 students conducted activities in the Glen during 2011–2012.
Established the FCSM Advisory Board (2008).
The upcoming $150 million expansion/renovation of Smith Hall. Smith was built in 1965 and 1975. The plan is for a 100,000 sf addition and a gut renovation of the current 220,000 sf building. Designed for a student body of 25,000, the new building is already looking too small due to the disproportionate number of those new students who are choosing to major in science and math.
Points of Pride:
FCSM has a wide ranging external funding portfolio that includes basic and applied research; scholarship programs [NSF Noyce, NSF Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM)]; and teacher professional development programs (NASA, NSF, MHEC, MSDE). In FY12, 86 faculty members (out of about 130 FT tenured or tenure-track faculty) wrote 78 grant proposals requesting $21.1 million. Grants awarded to FCSM amounted to $6.1 million in FY11 and $2.8 million in FY12. So far in FY13 (as of October 18), FCSM has been awarded $2.5 million.
Faculty members are highly recognized (two recent USM Elkins Professors, and numerous recent Regents Awards for Research, Teaching, Mentoring, and Public Service). Three NSF- CAREER grants.
Our student cybers ecurity teams have won numerous local and regional cyber competitions. Advancing to the National competitions recently, TU teams have placed Fourth and Fifth in the nation. Additionally several faculty members in the Computer and Information Sciences Department were recently awarded a $2.09 million grant from the National Science Foundation CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service Program.
The Fisher Gift: Jess Fisher was a 1934 alumnus. After his death, his foundation gave $10.2M to name the college. More recently they provided another $160k to continue some programming while the endowment was underwater, so the total gift was $10.36M. Funds are held in three endowments:
$1 million for the Fisher Scholarship program – full tuition and fee scholarships for students in any major.
$1 million for the Fisher Pre-engineering Scholarship program – for students intending to continue in engineering.
$1 million for the Fisher Endowed Chair Program in the Biological and Physical Sciences – we use this to name a junior faculty member each year as a Fisher Endowed Professor for a period of three years.
$7 million for the General Endowment – this year we are using this to fund faculty-designed efforts that extend experiential learning and undergraduate research to as many students as possible. A few of the projects are:
Development of a course sequence to engage students in research involving the application of next-generation DNA sequencing
Development of an upper-division Ecological Techniques course to increase research opportunities for TU undergraduate students
Bridging the gap from traditional coursework to synthetic chemistry research: implementation of an Advanced Synthesis Lab Course
The Towson Cyber Operations Laboratory
Authentic research in an introductory laboratory class – BIOL 201
The Jess and Mildred Fisher
College of Science and Mathematics
Smith Hall, Room 312 (campus map)