BHEF Supports PCAST Report on Undergraduate STEM Education
Report recommends actions BHEF is taking with its STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project
Contact: Alex Sittig 202-367-2393
Washington, DC (February 10, 2012) —The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) today expressed enthusiastic support for Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics., a report to President Obama from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s (PCAST). This report outlines a federal strategy for improving STEM education during the first two years of college, and offers the following recommendations:
- Catalyze widespread adoption of empirically validated teaching practices;
- Advocate and provide support for replacing standard laboratory courses with discovery-based research courses;
- Launch a national experiment in postsecondary mathematics education to address the mathematics-preparation gap;
- Encourage partnerships among stakeholders to diversify pathways to STEM careers; and
- Create a Presidential Council on STEM Education with leadership from the academic and business communities to provide strategic leadership for transformative and sustainable change in STEM undergraduate education.
PCAST’s recommendations tightly align with BHEF’s recently launched STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project, a five-year effort to increase the undergraduate degree completion of students, particularly women and members of underrepresented minority groups, in STEM fields, deepen STEM learning, and better align the skills of STEM graduates with workforce needs. This project, focused on the first two-years of STEM undergraduate education, utilizes four mutually reinforcing strategies: regional demonstration pilots; data analysis and identifying new metrics; modeling effective practices in STEM; and a national strategy to link government, university, and industry associations, which ties in the important STEM undergraduate work in progress by BHEF member-led organizations the American Association of University Presidents and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.
BHEF CEO Brian K. Fitzgerald presented to PCAST last January, offering recommendations the council and President Obama should take to improve STEM undergraduate education and served on the working group that developed a draft of the report. In response to this week’s report, Fitzgerald said, “I am pleased that PCAST incorporated many of the working group’s strategies for improving STEM undergraduate education, and incorporated them into their final report. This report represents an important, new component of the President’s STEM strategy. BHEF is in a unique position to support this STEM agenda because its members are deeply invested in improving STEM undergraduate education, and the action steps outlined in the PCAST report align tremendously with the work BHEF has been conducting over the past seven years, as well as our newly launched STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project.”
“A major goal of the STEM Higher Education Workforce project is to stimulate new thinking on how academia and industry can collaborate to enrich undergraduate STEM learning and address regional workforce needs,” said Mark Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis and co-chair of the BHEF STEM Working Group. "This effort operates at the intersection of BHEF member interests, and offers a game-changing opportunity to address this country’s STEM challenges at the regional and national levels and meet this country’s economic needs."
“Corporations have a vested interest in seeing that students graduate from college with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the workforce,” said Walt Havenstein, CEO of SAIC and co-chair of the BHEF STEM Working Group.
During the White House Science Fair earlier this week, President Obama announced the following key steps to address recommendations outlined in the PCAST report:
- An $80 million investment to help prepare effective STEM teachers;
- A $100 million investment to strengthen undergraduate science and mathematics education and,
- A new $22 million investment from the philanthropic and private sector to complement the Administration’s efforts.
For additional information on the report, visit PCAST’s website.
For more information about BHEF and the STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project, please visit www.bhef.com/solutions/stem/hewp.asp.
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BHEF's STEM Initiative, launched in 2005, has spawned: (1) innovative modeling tools, including BHEF's U.S. STEM Education Model, a unique simulation model developed by Raytheon Company and donated to BHEF, which allows users to examine ways to improve the number of students who are interested in and prepared for STEM careers; and BHEF's Metropolitan College Learn & Earn Model that enables users to explore how current workload, workforce expansion, and participation in Learn and Earn programs affect workforce composition, employee productivity, and employer benefits; (2) an issue brief and program profiles on Professional Science Master's programs that prepare individuals for STEM careers in business and government by providing interdisciplinary graduate level coursework that combines education in STEM disciplines with training in management and workplace skills; (3) major reports, including A Commitment to America's Future: Responding to the Crisis in Mathematics and Science Education; and An American Imperative: Transforming the Recruitment, Renewal, and Retention of our Nation's Mathematics and Science Teaching Workforce, a seminal report on recruiting, renewing, and retaining America's STEM teaching workforce; and (4) the BHEF STEM Research and Policy Brief Series which focuses on important dimensions of the education and workforce misalignment challenge facing the United States. The first research brief of the state series, Addressing the STEM Workforce Challenge: Missouri, explores unique solutions to Missouri's shortage of students who are interested in and prepared for STEM careers.
About the Business-Higher Education Forum
BHEF is the nation’s oldest organization of senior business and higher education executives dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to U.S. education and workforce challenges. Composed of Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent college and university presidents, and other leaders, BHEF addresses issues fundamental to our global competitiveness. It does so through two initiatives: the College Readiness, Access, and Success Initiative (CRI); and the Securing America’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative. BHEF and its members drive change locally, work to influence public policy at the national and state levels, and inspire other leaders to act. Learn more at www.bhef.com.