Northam proposes $1M investment for future STEM educators at HBCUs
Va. is the first state to use state money to fund a UTeach program.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday proposed a $1 million investment through the national UTeach program to increase pathways for students at Virginia’s two public historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to become science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educators. Although the UTeach program is present at 45 U.S. colleges and universities, Virginia is the first state to propose using public funds toward the program.
Northam’s investment is proposed to be implemented during the next two years. The investment is a public-private partnership between the state and former Society of Research Administrators International (SRA) CEO Ernst Volgenau, who has pledged $2.5 million to the program at the HBCUs. The Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University is named for him. In 2005, he donated $10 million to the school.
Founded at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 to recruit, prepare and retain STEM teachers, the UTeach program would be implemented at Virginia State University and Norfolk State University. UTeach students will earn their secondary teaching certification while completing a STEM major. The program does not add any time or cost to their degree.
“The demand for STEM education is growing rapidly, and we must ensure that students of color, students from lower-income school divisions and students in other under-represented populations are not left behind,” Northam said in a statement. “UTeach will help address our existing teacher shortage and create a pool of diverse, talented STEM educators who are equipped to ensure Virginia students have the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary to thrive in a fast changing, technologically-advanced, global society.”
In Virginia, 52% of the K-12 student population are students of color, while only 18% of educators are teachers of color, according to Virginia Department of Education data. The developing the UTeach program at HBCUs is intended to diversify STEM educators.