USF Receives Nearly $1 Million Through Noyce Grant

June 28, 2018 | Joliet, Ill.

The University of St. Francis (USF) announced today that it has received a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grant for almost $1 million, awarded by the National Science Foundation. The grant seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become effective teacher leaders in high-needs school districts in the immediate Joliet area.

“The University of St. Francis has a strong history of fostering representation in the STEM fields,” says USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D. “In the early days of the College of St. Francis, the Joliet Franciscans held doctorates in the sciences and encouraged students to be scientists when women had little representation in the STEM fields. Today, the university invested greatly in STEM initiatives building the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Science Hall. This building will provide students opportunities to use state-of-the art laboratories and learning spaces. This is the opportune time to recruit and train excellent STEM teachers for our community.”

The grant will be used to establish the USF Noyce Scholars Program, which will increase the number of secondary biology and mathematics teachers in the region through an increase in the number of STEM majors successfully completing biology and mathematics teaching licensure.

“The jobs forecast indicates substantial growth in STEM fields,” says Lisa White-McNulty, USF professor of education and principal grant investigator. “We need excellent teachers who can instill a love of STEM in their students and prepare them well to pursue STEM related degrees in college.”

The residual effects of this scholarship and its impact on the quality of STEM programs offered at UFS is equally important.

“Even if students do not pursue a career in a STEM field, they benefit from a strong foundation in those subjects so they can be informed citizens in this technology driven world,” commented White-McNulty. “Issues like genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and climate change affect all of us.”

The USF Noyce Scholars Program also plans to increase the effectiveness of its graduates as teachers and teacher leaders through field experiences in high-needs classrooms, informal STEM education opportunities, additional teaching opportunities, and mentoring from STEM and education faculty.

After graduating, USF Noyce Scholars will continue to receive support from the University of St. Francis during their first two years in the classroom, which has been identified as the timeframe in which teachers are most likely to leave the field. USF will provide additional online mentoring initiatives designed to complement district programming.

“The research in STEM teacher education tells us that new teachers need support as they continue to master their disciplines, along with strategies to help a wide range of learners be successful,” says White-McNulty. “Providing lots of support during the first two years is critical to retaining STEM teachers, and we complement districts’ new teacher programming to fill in any gaps and provide a professional network for our graduate cohorts using social media, so they have mentoring at their fingertips.”

The USF Noyce Scholars program coincides with the College of Education’s new 4+1 Program, which allows qualified secondary education majors to earn a bachelor’s degree in their discipline and a Master of Education degree in five years. The grant funds candidates’ third through fifth years in the program, and provides additional funding for books, conference travel, and programming.

Scholars will serve as STEM teachers in high-needs school districts in the surrounding region for a period of time after they graduate from USF. Scholarship materials will be available starting in February of 2018. Interested students should check stfrancis.edu/scholarships for details.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves 4,100 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 49,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu. University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.