$1 Million Gift from Annenberg Foundation Will Fund First Endowed Professorship

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California State University, Dominguez Hills President Mildred García announced today a $1 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation to establish the university’s first endowed professorship.

The Wallis Annenberg Endowed Professorship for Innovation in STEM Education position will lead the university’s many programs focused on growing the number of teachers in the fields, and oversee the creation of the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE), which will serve as an incubator for new STEM initiatives in the region.

“One of the goals in our Strategic Plan 2010-2015 is to help more under-represented students acquire the skills and knowledge in the highly in-demand areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),” García said. “This gift from the Annenberg Foundation greatly enhances CSU Dominguez Hills’s ability to meet that goal.”

STEM learning is viewed by many in government and business as essential if the U.S. is to lead in the 21st century global economy. Yet studies show that U.S. students—most notably under-represented students—lag well behind other nations in science and math. A lack of highly qualified STEM teachers nationwide is considered part of the problem. In California alone, openings for math and science teachers are far greater than the pool of qualified candidates, leaving teachers with limited STEM knowledge to teach in those classes, often in urban schools where achievement is the lowest.

CSU Dominguez Hills is already playing a significant role in addressing this shortage in California—and given its status as one of the most diverse universities in the West, is also impacting the number of under-represented students going into math and science. Since 2003, the university has prepared over 800 individuals for a secondary teaching credential in math and science, more than any other campus in the CSU system, which is the state’s largest producer of math and science teachers.

Through the synergy of a number of STEM-focused teacher preparatory grants awarded to the university over the past decade, the university has been able to create a STEM education pathway that gives recipients strong foundations in math and science and pedagogy, and exposure in the classroom early on. As students move through the program, they serve as mentors for the newer candidates, and once fully credentialed and teaching for three years, they have the opportunity to return as part of a Master Teacher Fellowship. The grants partner directly with K-12 school districts throughout Los Angeles to place graduates in high-need urban schools.

The new Wallis Annenberg Endowed Professorship position would work to integrate the best practices of these grant programs into the entire STEM teacher education curriculum on campus and expand on the number of highly qualified and diverse STEM teachers coming out of CSU Dominguez Hills. Additionally, this endowed professorship would lead the Center for Innovation in STEM Education and develop continuing education programs, workshops, and conferences that bring together national and regional educators in STEM, further establishing the university as a regional leader and resource for innovation in STEM education.

“We are excited to support this important initiative and the vision of President García in positioning CSU Dominguez Hills as a regional leader in STEM education,” said Leonard Aube, executive director for the Annenberg Foundation. “We look forward to working together in the years ahead to support and grow the next generation of STEM leaders.”