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Chancellor Matthew Goldstein Initiates the Decade of Scientific Research

Confronting a national crisis that finds U.S. students falling behind in the sciences and mathematics, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has called for the creation of an advanced computer simulation center on Governors Island, the building of new state-of-the-art research centers at the CUNY colleges, and a Teacher Academy, inspired by the CUNY Honors College, to train a new generation of math and science teachers. The Chancellor’s plans for “The Decade of Scientific Research” were outlined in the following testimony before the New York State Senate Higher Education Committee recently.

“This new, evolving economy demands highly skilled and adaptable workers. I believe the United States is failing to meet that need. In 2000, the proportion of the college-age population earning degrees in science and engineering fields was substantially larger in more than 16 countries in Asia and Europe than in the United States. Science and Engineering Indicators reports that since 1990, U.S. bachelor’s degrees in engineering have dropped by 8 percent and degrees in math by 20 percent. A 2003 study by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), assessing math literacy and other skills of students at age 15, showed that the United States ranked 24th of 29 OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries in mathematics literacy. Only Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Mexico ranked lower. In 1999, when the program analyzed science literacy, the United States ranked 14th of 32 participating nations.

In New York City, reports at the end of 2005 showed that eighth grade science test scores dropped eight percentage points in the past two years. Among high school students, only 7 percent passed the physics Regents exams and just 18 percent passed the chemistry Regents exams. As all of these numbers indicate, gaps in proficiency in early grades only widen in college.

The University is strongly committed to addressing these challenges. It is one of the reasons I recently unveiled our proposal for a compact to increase funding for the University through a shared partnership. Only by making public education a public funding priority will we be able to meet the challenges of a technologically advanced future. It is also the reason I designated 2005 to 2015 the “Decade of Science” at the University. I believe the University needs to focus new initiatives in three major areas to ensure a healthy pipeline to the science, math, technology, and engineering fields: first, advancing science at the highest levels; second, training students to teach in these fields; and third, encouraging young people to study in these areas.

CUNY, working in collaboration with NYU, Columbia, and Polytechnic University and the Department of Education, has proposed the creation of an advanced center of simulation modeling on Governors Island. Computer simulation is a powerful method for analysis and experimentation on virtual systems that mimic some aspect of reality, allowing for a more thorough consideration of complex problems, from traffic patterns to the spread of disease to global climate forecasting. CUNY has taken the lead in developing this high-end scientific center, which would serve business and industry by advancing our ability to process the most sophisticated forms of information.

The University’s top-notch science faculty already enjoy an excellent reputation. This was made clear when David Bauer, the winner of the 2005 Intel Science Talent Search, decided to attend the CUNY Honors College at The City College. Bauer had his pick of colleges across the country, but he was drawn to CUNY by the mentorship of Professor Valeria Balogh-Nair, in whose bio-organic chemistry lab he had worked while in high school.

To that end, the University has begun an operational review of our Ph.D. programs in the laboratory sciences, leading to new investments in graduate student support for highly competitive students.

In addition, the University’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, which is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, has been operating since 1992 with the goal of producing significantly greater numbers of minority students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

Part of the challenge in increasing the pipeline of students pursuing studies in mathematics and science is meeting the need for K-12 teachers in these fields who can engage students consistently from elementary to middle schools to high school. To address the need for qualified urban teachers for all students, CUNY, in partnership with the New York Department of Education and New York University, is pursuing a new program to re-envision and re-invigorate teacher education in science and mathematics. The CUNY Teacher Academy will educate students at the baccalaureate level by integrating observation in the public schools with a rigorous academic program in their majors (biology, chemistry, earth science, or mathematics).

The Teacher Academy will admit its first class of up to 300 students in Fall 2006. Each of six Teacher Academy campuses (Brooklyn College, City College, the College of Staten Island, Hunter College, Lehman College, and Queens College) expects approximately 50 students who will receive tuition support for four years and three summers while they complete their baccalaureate programs. Each student will be obligated to teach for a minimum of two years in New York City schools after graduation.

CUNY’s extensive and growing College Now program helps students meet high school graduation requirements and be prepared for success in college. The program is offered in most New York City public high schools, with more than 30,000 students registered in more than 50,000 courses. The majority of the students are minorities. We will continue to run our College Now summer science programs and plan to expand our summer programs in the area of mathematics. In the summer of 2005, five colleges conducted science-based College Now programs. Several provided opportunities for students who just completed the 9th and 10th grades—everything from a rowing and science program on the Hudson River conducted by Borough of Manhattan Community College to a marine ecology institute at Brooklyn College. The Summer Science program at Queens College explored “hot topics” in science with students who successfully completed 10th and 11th grades. The University has also initiated science-related projects as part of the College Now program’s efforts to increase the number of students who qualify for enrollment in college credit courses before high school graduation.

To help prepare students for the rigorous college curriculum in science and math, we are also introducing a new “Science Now” program for middle and high school students, as part of the College Now program. We know that early and continued exposure to science is critical to ensuring long-term engagement and enthusiasm. Science is not made in a laboratory—it is made when a young person gets that initial spark, that flash of exhilaration.

CUNY-TV will develop an interactive television program to bring science activities and innovations to a wide audience of young people through a lively, inquisitive show that emphasizes real-world applications of scientific concepts. David Bauer, the 2005 Intel Science Talent Search winner and CUNY Honors College student, will join the CUNY-TV show “Study with the Best” to introduce science segments featuring educational programs throughout the University.#



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