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 Strategic Planning Trend 2 



Science, Technology and Mathematics

The greater productivity gains that sustain our economy and improve our standard of living come from the nation’s leadership in the Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) areas.  However, in recent years the leadership advantage enjoyed historically by the United States in STM areas has been in decline.  For example, 66 percent of undergraduates in Japan receive their degrees in science and engineering, and in China 59 percent receive such degrees.  In the United States, the percentage of undergraduates who receive degrees in science and engineering is 17 percent, well below national averages seen elsewhere [1].

Based on the 2008 Department of Labor projections of changes in occupational growth within the United States in the years leading up to 2018 [2], it may be concluded that although many sectors of the US economy (e.g., manufacturing and finance) are expected to decline or show only modest growth, STM areas, including health care, are expected to have among the highest growth rates.  During the same period, employment growth is predicted to be at least twice as high for persons having at least a bachelor’s degree than for those without an undergraduate degree [3].  Consequently, it is vital that Slippery Rock University be competitive in vigorously recruiting talented students interested in STM, and preparing them to compete in a global, knowledge/skills-based, 21st century workforce.

The very nature of higher education involves the creation, collection, analysis, and dissemination of information.  As STM areas become increasingly important in the functioning of society, the very essence of what we as educators do changes as well.  For example, the roles and definitions of classrooms, textbooks, libraries, student-faculty communication and research are all being transformed by ubiquitous computing and the technologies of information.  As new disciplines are born, disciplinary mutation and interdisciplinary cross-fertilization becomes widespread rather than exceptional.

To meet the STM-specific needs of the students, Slippery Rock University must place a proactive emphasis on supporting STM disciplines, and on increasing student awareness of the role STM plays in modern society.  In addressing student education in the STM areas, it is necessary to consider the needs of students whose career goals lie within STM majors as well as those students in other, non-STM areas.  As a result, Slippery Rock University must further develop STM content and provide substantial support for STM educational experiences in all areas of the curriculum.  In particular, a greater emphasis on exposure to STM content in the Liberal Studies Program is necessary to ensure adequate student preparation.  Especially in STM-oriented majors, institutional support for the acquisition of cutting-edge technology, including both science instrumentation and computational resources, is necessary to ensure that students entering STM fields upon graduation have the skills needed for success.  In addition, Slippery Rock University recognizes the strategic imperative of nurturing a culture of ethical thinking at all levels of the institution, and assuring that ethical decision making is emblematic of the SRU experience.

Science, Technology and Mathematics Student Competencies

In meeting these goals, Slippery Rock University envisions that students earning a degree, whether in STM disciplines or not, will possess certain STM-related competencies, which will contribute significantly to the students’ future success.

Students earning a degree in any discipline are expected to have …

  • A firm educational foundation permitting them to appreciate the critical roles that STM plays in the productive functioning of modern society
  • An increased capacity to critically evaluate and make informed decisions about the content and ethics associated with the increasing number of societal issues that are STM-related
  • An appreciation of the importance and application of the scientific method to STM-related studies

In addition, students earning a degree in STM disciplines are expected to have …

  • A firm educational foundation in knowledge areas specific to their respective disciplines
  • A significant skill set in the use of relevant modern technologies, which will enhance post-graduation employment opportunities, long-term productivity, and ability to contribute to the advancement of their respective areas

Specific Strategies Goals

To address the long-term STM educational needs of students at Slippery Rock University, the following strategic goals are being adopted. Each of the strategies is linked to the institutional accountability measures (IAM) listed in the appendix

Slippery Rock University will increase new and enrolled student interest and participation in Science, Technology and Mathematics disciplines [IAM 1, 4, 10, 13] 

ACTION     The Colleges of Health, Environment and Science and Business, Information and Social Sciences will promote STM-focused outreach programs in area elementary and secondary schools to increase STM interest and literacy among K-12 students
MEASURE  Implementation
BASELINE To be established
ACTION     Enrollment Services will coordinate campus initiatives for marketing and expanding enrollment into the university’s STM areas by supporting the development of targeted recruitment initiatives, and by leveraging on-campus events such as the SRU Research Symposium and the annual Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition
MEASURE  Percent of new freshman cohort enrollment in the College of Health, Environment and Science, and in select programs (Computer Science, Information Technology, Information Systems) in the College of Business, Information and Social Sciences
BASELINE  2003 freshman cohort – 33%
UPDATE     2004 freshman cohort – 31%; 2005 freshman cohort – 32%; 2006 freshman cohort – 32%; 2007 freshman cohort – 35%; 2008 freshman cohort – 39%; 2009 freshman cohort – 40%; 2010 freshman cohort – 41%
ACTION     The Office of Retention Services will coordinate campus efforts to improve the graduation rates in STM areas
MEASURE   Retention rate of freshman cohort-grouped undergraduate students in STM areas
BASELINE  To be established
ACTION     The Center for Undergraduate Research will promote the SRU Research Symposium as a venue to stimulate interest in STM areas
MEASURE  The number of undergraduate students participating in the symposium
BASELINE  91 people presented 44 projects, 61 students (42 undergrads; 19 graduates), 23 faculty, 2 staff, 5 outside faculty (2003 Symposium)
UPDATE     109 people presented 45 projects, 68 students (43 undergraduate; 25 graduates), 28 faculty, 2 staff, 11 outside faculty (2004-2005 Symposium)
UPDATE      118 people presented 48 projects:  66 students (44 undergraduate, 22 graduates), 39 faculty, 10 outside faculty, 3 outside students (2005-2006 Symposium)
UPDATE      82 people presented 36 projects:  41 students (32 undergraduate, 9 graduates), 36 faculty, 5 outside participants (2006-2007 Symposium).  The Research Symposium is currently being reorganized to address a 30% decline in participation (2006-2007 Symposium)
UPDATE      129 people presented 44 projects: 91 students (77 undergraduates, 14 graduates), 35 faculty advisors, 3 outside participants (2008 Symposium). Under the guidance of the Director of the Library, the Research Symposium is showing a 57% increase in participation (2007-2008 Symposium)
UPDATE      151 people presented 43 projects: 122 students (112 undergraduates, 10 graduates), 29 faculty advisors. Under the guidance of the Director of the Library, the Research Symposium is showing a 17% increase in participation (2008-2009 Symposium)
UPDATE      155 people presented 74 projects; 104 students (95 undergraduates and 9 graduates), 51 faculty advisors. Under the guidance of the Director of the Library, the Research Symposium is showing an 8% increase in participation (also an increase of 72% in presentations over 2008-09 although a decrease of 18 students participating due to a smaller number of group projects represented.)  (2009-2010 Symposium)

Slippery Rock University will increase student achievement in STM areas by providing challenging curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular experiences, with engaging instruction, and with assessments that encourage real world, inquiry-based problem solving [IAM 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 16]

ACTION     Academic Affairs will support the acquisition of contemporary instrumentation and resources critical to student achievement in STM areas through new and existing institutional and college-level funding opportunities
MEASURE  Resource allocation
BASELINE To be established
ACTION     Academic Affairs will support student/faculty collaborative research projects in STM areas
MEASURE  Resource allocation by the university (U), College of Health, Environment and Science (CHES), and/or Academic Affairs (AA) for faculty/student research projects
BASELINE  2003-2004: $38,988 (U)
UPDATE     2004-2005: $35,000 (U), $10,000 (CHES); 2005-2006: $35,000 (U), $10,856 (CHES); 2006-2007: $35,000 (U), $18,765 (CHES); 2007-2008: $35,000 (U), $10,524 (CHES); 2008-2009: $35,000 (U), $18,982 (CHES), $5000 toward 10 student researcher awards (AA); 2009-2010: $35,000 (U), $14,516 (CHES), $5000 toward 10 student researcher awards (AA)
ACTION     The Office of Grants and Sponsored Research and CETET will support professional development opportunities in the STM areas to achieve excellence in teaching and research through Professional Development day activities and the Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable group
MEASURE  Number of professional development opportunities
BASELINE To be established
ACTION     The Colleges of Business, Information and Social Sciences and Health, Environment and Sciences will promote the incorporation of computational and information management skills and science content throughout the curriculum
MEASURE  The number of courses with content area
BASELINE To be established
ACTION     Academic Affairs will support STM-oriented co- and extracurricular initiatives such as on-campus workshops, lecture series for students and faculty on modern trends affecting STM disciplines, field experiences, and cross-disciplinary endeavors
MEASURE Resource allocation and number of opportunities
BASELINE To be established
ACTION     Academic Affairs and University Advancement will support and expand initiatives, such as the business incubator, that have the potential to provide students with real-world experience in STM areas
MEASURE Number of initiatives impacting students in STM areas
BASELINE To be established

Slippery Rock University will provide technological resources to facilitate learning, research, and professional development for students, faculty and staff in STM areas [IAM 2, 3, 5, 8]

ACTION      Information Administrative Technology Services will develop and maintain a premier campus computing environment, which includes a highly accessible, comprehensive, and contemporary information management system, and STM-relevant software packages
MEASURE   Resource allocation
BASELINE   To be established
ACTION      Information Administrative Technology Services will provide timely training for students, faculty, and staff in emerging technologies available on campus
MEASURE    Number of training opportunities
BASELINE   To be established

Literature Cited

  1. National Science Foundation.  2002.  Chapter 2: Higher Education in Science and Engineering, In Science and Engineering Indicators – 2002.  Arlington, VA.
  2. U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.  2009.  Employment Projections – 2008-2018, Table 7, In BLS News Release (December 10, 2009).
  3. U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.  2009.  Employment Projections – 2008-2018, Table 9, In BLS News Release (December 10, 2009).

Appendix: Institutional Accountability Measures

  1. Degrees Awarded
  2. Second Year Persistence 
  3. Accreditation
  4. Graduation Rates 
  5. Faculty Productivity 
  6. Distance Education 
  7. PRAXIS Aggregate Passing Rates
  8. Internships
  9. New Pennsylvania Community College Transfers or Associates Degrees Awarded
  10. Diversity of Entering Class
  11. Enrollment Diversity
  12. Employee Diversity
  13. Degree Programs with Few Graduates
  14. Personnel Ratio 
  15. Private Support
  16. Instructional Cost
  17. Faculty Terminal Degrees


Steering Committee  

President Cheryl J. Norton
Dr. Philip Way
Ms. Molly Mercer
Dr. Robert Watson
Ms. Barbara Ender
Ms. Rita Abent
Ms. Tina Moser
Mr. Eliott Baker
Dr. Nancy Barta-Smith
Ms. Carrie Birckbichler
Dr. John Bonando
Dr. Patrick Burkhart (APSCUF)
Dr. Patti Campbell
Mr. Herb Carlson
Dr. Jerry Chmielewski
Mr. Rogers Clements (SGA)
Dr. Cornelius Cosgrove
Ms. Lorraine Craven
Dr. Keith Dils

Dr. Thomas Flynn 
Dr. Susan Hannam
Ms. Mary Hennessey
Dr. Athula Herat
Ms. Samantha Kelly
Ms. Mary Ann King
Mr. Paul Lueken
Dr. Jeffrey Lynn
Ms. Holly McCoy
Ms. Lynne Motyl
Dr. Randall Nichols
Dr. Paula Olivero
Ms. Deb Pincek
Dr. Katrina Quinn

Mr. Regis Schiebel
Ms. Kelly Sladden (ARHS)
Dr. Langdon Smith
Dr. Steven Strain
Ms. Melissa Teodoro
Mr. Philip Tramdack
Dr. Eva Tsuquiashi-Daddesio
Mr. Tom Watson (AFSCME)
Dr. Amanda Yale