STORY BY SARAH GROSSMAN
On Oct. 30, The Drake University Board of Trustees officially approved the launch of a $65 million STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, initiative.
This new STEM initiative will include additional courses in mathematics, science, education, technology and health sciences along with a new academic complex.
While this project appears to directly impact health and science majors, this program will also affect other schools on campus.
One school benefitting from the initiative is the School of Education, which created a STEM endorsement.
“In the school of education, as a part of that work, we’ve secured the STEM hub status for Drake University so that’s through the Governor’s STEM council,” said Jerrid Kruse, assistant professor of education. “So, Drake University is a STEM hub.”
Kruse, along with Tonia Land, assistant professor of mathematics and technology education, developed the STEM endorsement.
“We created some new courses, modified existing courses and took that to our department and then up to the state,” Kruse said. “So Drake actually turned out to be the first, and as of right now I think we are the only university in Iowa that offers a STEM endorsement.”
The School of Education’s new location will be in the new STEM@DRAKE complex. This will be a more central location than its current position south of University Ave.
While this program is beneficial for many, there are a few who question this decision. Amy Mathews, junior graphic design and advertising double major is one.
“I think my frustration was that, being in the art and design program, we’ve had our budgets cut, probably a few times since I’ve been here,” Mathews said. “I think our program is kind of being pushed to the back burner along with a lot of other students. I’ve heard their frustrations in the humanities department.”
Mathews understands the complications of funding, but still wishes Drake would consider its other programs first.
“I know that they often get the money from donors from those schools,” Mathews said. “That’s great that they are getting that money for those programs, but it would be nice to see Drake helping the programs and the majors that they already have and improving those where they do need to be improved upon.”
Even with her concern, Mathews recognized that there is one other group that can greatly benefit from the STEM program at Drake.
“Well, I do think that STEM is really important, especially for young women,” Mathews said.
Nationally, more men are involved in STEM programs than women.
“While it’s great to enter college with that ambition, I think it’s very easy for females to get knocked down and say, ‘I’m just not cut out for this,”’ said Kathryn Kriss, senior biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major.
Kriss has first-hand experience as a woman in a male-dominated field.
“There were tons of people dropping out of my majors and the pharmacy major,” Kris said. “It seemed like a lot of those were women, and a lot of them decided to be a nurse instead of a doctor or physicians assistant instead of a doctor or go health administration instead of sticking with pharmacy. If I had to say one gender over another, I’d have to say women were doing it more than men to take on more traditionally female oriented health care fields.”
While none can foresee the full impact of this initiative, Kruse knows that this will cause change.
“I think it’s going to be an improvement,” Kruse said. “What the results of that will be, I don’t know … It will be interesting to see what the impact is as far as curriculum, but also Drake’s outreach to the community. The work we do has implications beyond the walls of Drake.”