As the nation grapples with an increasing need for scientists, engineers and technical experts, Northern Arizona University finds itself perfectly poised to attract and retain qualified teachers who will draw students into these fields. Gov. Janet Napolitano [and NAU president John Haeger] today announced that NAU is one of 12 colleges and universities in the nation, and the only one in the state, to receive a multimillion-dollar grant that has the potential to more than double the number of science and math teachers NAU currently is producing. “This grant demonstrates how education performance is directly tied to economic performance,” Napolitano said. “By fostering innovation in our classrooms, we can regain our status as a global leader in scientific discovery.”
The $3.4 million grant will replicate a program modeled after the highly successful UTeach program established at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. The National Math and Science Initiative awarded $2.4 million funded by ExxonMobil, while the Helios Education Foundation contributed an additional $1 million. The UTeach program introduces undergraduate math and science majors to elementary and secondary school teaching by offering compact degree plans, early teaching experiences and financial assistance. The model has been shown to dramatically increase student recruitment into math and science teaching, while increasing the retention rate of graduates to 84 percent after four years, compared to only 60 percent nationally.