Article Category Archives: Around the Quad

Noyce Program Aims to Increase the Number of Physics and Mathematics Teachers

For years, there has been a growing sentiment among employers and professional educators alike that the United States needs to prepare more individuals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively referred to as STEM. By participating in the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, the University is hoping to help that cause by turning out more educators specifically suited to teach both mathematics and physics.

“The need for physics educators is going up, but the projected number of qualified teachers will not meet the growing demand,” said John Nash, project manager for Truman’s Noyce program.

The Noyce program covers the cost of tuition for participating students. To be eligible, students must be a junior or senior double majoring in mathematics and physics, and they must participate in Truman’s Master of Arts in Education program upon graduation.

By preparing more teachers with backgrounds in STEM disciplines, the Noyce program will eventually help produce more Americans with in-demand skills. For the Truman students planning to teach after participating in the program, there also will be some immediate dividends.

“At a national level, the goal is to improve STEM teachers and teaching in order to make America more competitive in those fields,” Nash said. “Being dually certified to teach math and physics will make our graduates much more marketable.”

Truman’s participation in the Noyce program is funded through a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant. After establishing a partnership in 2013, the University sponsored its first scholars in fall 2014, with the hope of producing 20 secondary education teachers during its initial five-year phase.

Paul Yoder (left) and Truman Noyce Scholar Joseph Milliano attended the Noyce Scholar Program Conference in Omaha, Neb., in October.

Paul Yoder (left) and Truman Noyce Scholar Joseph Milliano attended the Noyce Scholar Program Conference in Omaha, Neb., in October.

The program is already yielding benefits for its scholars. Truman Noyce students have been able to attend conferences and professional development workshops. Student Matt Evers secured a summer internship through the California State University’s STEM Teacher and Research, or STAR program. He was assigned to a NASA lab where he worked under a mentor.

“The Noyce scholarship affords me the opportunity to build my career early,” Evers said. “Through Noyce, I had the opportunity to intern at NASA in the summer of 2015. It was an experience that many teacher-bound students never receive. Above all, it was an opportunity to learn something new while focusing on how to teach what I learned to a future class. The Noyce scholarship not only allows me to focus on my work, but also provides powerful networking for future teachers.”

For more information, especially for teachers and administrators interested in hiring a Noyce program scholar, contact Nash at jnash@truman.edu or visit noyce.truman.edu.

Campus Mall Updated

ATQ-MallFor more than 40 years, hundreds of students ventured across the Truman Mall each day attending events, tabling for a cause or walking with a friend on the way to class. After decades of facing the elements it was time for a makeover, and the Mall reconstruction project began in May 2015.

Despite a summer of heavy rainfall causing a few setbacks, the project was finished just in time to welcome alumni back for Homecoming. The area renovated includes the pathway extending from the Student Union Building toward McClain Hall and Baldwin Hall. This marked the first major renovation in the history of the Mall.

Discussions began in the early 1970s about creating a pedestrian-friendly pathway between buildings to make campus safer and more accessible. Prior to 1973, the Mall was an extension of Marion Street, which ran north and south between Pickler Memorial Library and the Student Union Building.

While the area was initially built as a walkway, the recent updates have created a space for students to gather and collaborate. Several benches were installed to provide an area to relax between classes. Locust and elms trees were also planted to create shade around seating areas, and the addition of multiple power sources allows for outdoor group meetings and new locations to do homework.

As part of the renovation, a handicap accessible ramp was added from the Student Union Building parking lot. The Mall project is one of Truman’s many efforts toward the goal of making campus more environmentally friendly. The project utilized new materials and details that will endure harsh weather and heavy traffic. Unlike the old Mall, these new materials allow rainwater to reach the underlying soil, which will provide healthy growth of shrubbery.

To celebrate the Mall improvements, Truman hosted a “Guess the Bricks” contest challenging students to estimate the number of bricks ordered for the project. Of the 127 students who entered the contest, computer science major Niraj Shrestha won with his estimate of 51,750. The actual number ordered was 68,000. As the winner of the contest, Shrestha was presented with a signed brick from University President Troy D. Paino.

—Erin Cicotte

Truman Strengthens Ties with Peace Corps

PeaceCorpLogoThe University’s longstanding affiliation with the Peace Corps expanded in the fall with the addition of the Peace Corps Prep program.

Peace Corps Prep offers students a unique combination of undergraduate coursework and community service that prepares them for careers in international development. It builds hands-on experience and leadership skills while students complete courses focused on intercultural competence and foreign language. Truman is one of only about 25 universities nationwide to have a Peace Corps Prep partnership with the agency.

Upon completion of the program, students will receive a signed certificate from the Peace Corps. Those individuals that participate in the Peace Corps Prep program are under no obligation to volunteer for the Peace Corps at any time, but successful completion of the program will make their applications more competitive should they choose to apply.

The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development.

Since the Peace Corps was created in 1961, more than 200 Truman graduates have served as volunteers. In 2015, Truman ranked No. 19 on the Peace Corps’ annual list of top volunteer-producing mid-sized schools with 14 alumni serving as volunteers. The University’s relationship with the agency was a key factor in helping Truman secure the ranking of No. 2 Master’s University in the nation, according to the Washington Monthly.

Peace Corps Prep is Truman’s newest partnership with the organization. In 2014, the University’s Office of Graduate Studies began participation in the Master’s International program, which allows students pursing a Master of Arts degree in leadership to complete one year of graduate coursework before beginning Peace Corps assignments. The two-year Peace Corps appointment counts as the required nine-credit internship experience, and tuition is waived during that time.

Further details about the Peace Corps Prep program can be found at truman.edu/majors-programs/more-learning-opportunities/peace-corps-prep-program.

Information regarding the Master’s International program can be found by visiting truman.edu/majors-programs/graduate-studies/masters-in-leadership/masters-international.

University Reduces Utility Costs While Helping the Environment

Truman is taking steps to make its campus more energy efficient, which will lead to economic savings for the school and tremendous benefits for the environment.

With the help of Energy Solutions Professionals of Overland Park, Kan., Truman is making a wide variety of improvements in 25 campus buildings, all in an effort to reduce the University’s annual energy expenditures as well as its carbon footprint.

The improvements, ranging from installing new light fixtures to updating the heating, cooling and ventilation systems of multiple buildings, are estimated to save the University more than $1 million annually, which will eventually offset the initial $10.5 million cost.

“Above all else, these implementations are investments,” University President Troy D. Paino said. “They make good fiscal sense for Truman over time, and any actions we can take that have a positive impact on the environment are priceless.”

Although the economic impact will be realized over time, the environmental aspects of the updates will be seen immediately. All totaled, the changes will reduce Truman’s consumption of natural gas, electricity and water, lowering the school’s carbon footprint by approximately 20 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 2,000 passenger vehicles. The amount of water saved each year would be enough to fill nearly 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Work on the energy-saving measures in the 16-month plan began in summer 2015. Some of the notable changes include: the replacement of more than 1,900 faucets, toilets, urinals, showerheads and icemakers; several new or re-lamped fluorescent and LED light fixtures; more than 400 new occupancy sensors; new energy management controls in multiple buildings; and improvements to the heating, cooling and ventilation systems in McClain Hall, Magruder Hall, Pershing Building, Pickler Memorial Library and the Student Recreation Center.

In recent years, energy efficiency has been a high priority at Truman. The President’s Sustainability Action Committee has researched and implemented multiple steps to reduce energy on campus and to protect the environment. TRU Impact, the University’s energy and conservation program, includes five focus areas to achieve those goals, including student and employee action plans, as well as plans for energy conservation, commissioning and benchmarking, building retrofits and new construction.

ATQ-Energy

Sustained Excellence Attracts Attention, Extends Accreditation

ATQ-Rankings-CupolaBefore the start of 2015-16 academic year, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaffirmed Truman’s accreditation for an additional 10 years. The University has been fully accredited by the HLC since 1914. Considering the level of acclaim Truman has received in recent years for quality, it should come as no surprise that interim monitoring was not needed to extend accreditation.

The freshmen that came to campus this fall have never known a time when Truman was not at the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. For the 19th year in a row, Truman was named the No. 1 public university in the Midwest regional category. The University also tied for the No. 8 spot overall in the Midwest region among both private and public institutions that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs. That placed Truman one spot better than the previous year’s ranking and a full 10 spots higher than the second-best public school on the list. Truman far outpaced the other Missouri public schools on the list, the closest of which was more than 50 spots lower.

In addition to holding on to the top spot, Truman can be found in several other categories in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. The school was again No. 1 in the Midwest region in the “A Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching” section. Truman was the only public school from the region to make the list.

Truman was also recognized on the “Most Innovative Schools” list, coming in tied at No. 3 overall in the Midwest. Of the five schools listed for the region, Truman was the only public university, and one of only five public schools in the nation, to be included. This was the first time U.S. News & World Report has included the “Most Innovative Schools” list in the annual rankings. College presidents, provosts and admissions deans were asked to nominate schools that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

Another new appearance for Truman came on the “A-Plus Schools for B Students” list, which acknowledges institutions where students “have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving” because “spirit and hard work could make all the difference to the admissions office.” Truman was also recognized as one of the “Best Colleges for Veterans.”

In terms of affordability, Truman was the No. 1 public school, and No. 5 overall, in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” section for the Midwest.

Affordability earned the University recognition from multiple sources in the past year. Consumers Digest rated Truman as the No. 1 value in the nation among public colleges and universities. The magazine examined more than 2,000 U.S. schools that offer four-year degrees. In addition to a list of the top 50 public schools, separate top 25 lists for private schools and private liberal arts schools were combined to establish the top 100 best values. Truman, the No. 1 public school the last time Consumers Digest examined higher education in 2011, was the only Missouri public school to make this year’s list.

Truman was also the only Missouri public school to be included as a “Best Buy” in the 2016 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Only 20 public institutions were profiled as part of a select group of schools noted for quality academic offerings and affordable cost.

For the second consecutive year, Truman earned the No. 2 spot in the Master’s University category of the annual Washington Monthly College Rankings. Once again, Truman was the No. 1 public school on the list and the only Missouri public university in the entire top 100. This list is unique in that it is based primarily on civic engagement, research and social mobility. Schools received high marks for contributing to society, enrolling low-income students, helping them graduate and keeping costs affordable.

Along those lines, Truman garnered additional praise in the overall introduction to this year’s Washington Monthly rankings. In the “Hidden Gems” section, editors noted that many universities across the country “serve as the workhorse institutions of American higher education, providing affordable degrees with strong ties to regional economies,” and specifically praised Truman for its graduation rates, affordable tuition and success at enrolling students in both the Peace Corps and the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

Truman closed out the year by earning a spot on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of the “Top 300 Best College Values of 2016.” Coming in at No. 65 overall, the University was ranked No. 15 among public institutions, an improvement of four spots from the previous year. Truman’s total cost per year is the sixth best among all of the schools in Kiplinger’s rankings. Among public institutions, Truman’s spot at No. 15 is enough to make it the highest-rated Missouri school on the list and the only university in the state to crack the top 50.