Science and Math Teacher Training Program Receives $550,000 Gift

March 13, 2011

By Pat Harris

Dana C. Ditmore presents monetary gift to the Center for STEM Education.Dana C. Ditmore, International Science & Engineeering Fair (ISEF) Association board president for events held in 2001 and 2010, presents the gift to the Center for STEM Education.

SJSU’s premiere science and math K-12 teacher training program has received a big boost.

A local group that originally came together to raise funds for two science fairs held in San Jose provided $550,000 in residuals to the Center for STEM Education, including the Jay Pinson Program.

“Jay always said the teacher made the difference when it comes to preparing students for college,” said Dana C. Ditmore, International Science & Engineeering Fair (ISEF) Association board president for events held in 2001 and 2010.

STEM, an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, is common on college campuses nationwide. But it takes on special significance in association with our region and campus.

Pinson, a dean emeritus of engineering, elevated SJSU’s national stature by raising millions to modernize the building housing his college. Even in retirement, he poured his energy into projects readying Silicon Valley youth for work in the tech sector.

Pinson made seeking support from tech executives like Ditmore a top priority. In return, SJSU earned Ditmore’s trust. At a recent checking signing ceremony, he lauded the STEM Center  as a three-college initiative led by the College of Science, with the colleges of education and engineering.

“What I see is a very collaborative environment at this university,” Ditmore said. “This is admirable, and not an easy thing to do, and it’s one of the reasons why we feel we are doing the right thing by leaving the residual to the university. We know it’s in good hands.”

The funding will be used in part to support pre-service teachers pursuing single-subject credentials in math or science, and to provide current teachers with professional development. Keep in mind these are the very same teachers who build the pipeline feeding students to science fairs, SJSU and the entire tech industry.

This is a point not lost on Gerry Selter, provost and vice president for academic affairs. He recalled ISEF, Pinson and the program now bearing his name share a long history. SJSU was the host university for two fairs, supplying all sorts of support from venues to judges, and Pinson was among the first college deans nationwide to offer scholarships to science fair standouts.

“It more than pleases me that those early efforts have created a new model of collaboration,” Selter said. “This is a clear sign that interdisciplinary partnerships coupled with public support from our community, individuals and alumni can bring change. This is what SJSU is all about.”

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Those who do will ensure a bright and strong future for the university, our city and region, and especially our students.

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