The Regional Center for Math and Science (RCMS) on the UW-Green Bay campus was recently awarded a continuation grant of $294,150 for fiscal year 2010. The four-year grant award of $1.2 million dollars will assure the program’s continuation through 2013.
The grant will allow 60 eligible high school-age students to participate in faculty-led summer learning experiences in advanced mathematics and science, supplemented by support and assistance at their home high schools through the rest of the school year.
The RCMS project was originally funded in 1992 by the Office of Federal TRIO Programs, Department of Education, to serve low-income first-generation students interested in majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). In its 17 years of operation, the Regional Center for Math and Science at UW-Green Bay has served 600 students. Of those, 92 percent have gone on to college and 76 percent have graduated from college, about three-times the expected rate for students from the demographic served by the program. Even more impressive, 69 percent of the RCMS program participants graduate from college with degrees in STEM fields.
What do a NASA aerospace engineer, a researcher at Walter Reed Medical Center, and a faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin all have in common? They all started as participants in the Regional Center for Math and Science, and attribute their subsequent success to the RCMS experience at UW-Green Bay. These professionals, along with hundreds of students and parents, and several members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation, came to the support of the RCMS program when its continuation was threatened in the fall of 2008. What is described as “a scoring anomaly” with the grant that was submitted in 2008 resulted in a temporary discontinuation of the program’s funding. Under the leadership of program Director Michael Casbourne, program supporters sent hundreds of faxes, e-mails and letters to their congressional representatives testifying to the success of the program and requesting their intervention to save it. Reps. David Obey and Steve Kagen were especially helpful in this effort, and Sen. Herbert Kohl sponsored earmark legislation to provide $285,000 to keep the program running in 2008-09. Campus Legislative Liaison Dan Spielmann and UW System Assistant Vice President Kris Andrews were very active behind the scenes, while closer to home, Interim Provost Bill Laatsch and Interim Chancellor David Ward provided a modest allocation of bridge funding to keep the program operational until the earmark funding was secured. The notice of the Department of Education’s continuation funding for the RCMS program, then, is the satisfying conclusion to a long, protracted and collaborative effort.