Southeast Awarded $2 Million Grant to Renovate Science Labs



July 7, 2009 – Southeast Missouri State University has been awarded a five-year, $2 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to renovate science laboratories and invest in faculty development and technology to improve laboratory learning experiences for students.

The grant-funded project, titled “Strengthening Academic Programs at Southeast Missouri State University through Redesigned Life Science Courses, Targeted Faculty Development and Critical Laboratory Renovations” will provide funds to renovate 50-year-old science labs and classrooms in Magill Hall on the north campus, as well as provide teaching equipment and instruments, faculty development and technology support for improving life science education at Southeast. A portion of the grant also will go towards the University’s endowment to fund future laboratory upgrades and maintenance.

“The quality work done in the life sciences field at Southeast Missouri State University is a credit to the entire community and to the Eighth Congressional District.  I am very proud that the University will be able to use this substantial grant to expand the science program, to offer new opportunities to students, and to make a great contribution to the country through continued research,” said U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.  “This competitive grant generated a great amount of interest from programs all over the nation, so it is a tremendous accomplishment for the University to secure this award.”

Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, added, “On behalf of the University, I would like to thank Congresswoman Emerson for her efforts in bringing these much needed dollars to Southeast to enhance the science education experience of our students. Today’s students engaged in the life sciences must be trained in state-of-the art laboratory environments so they are well positioned for critical life science jobs in the future. I would like to thank Congresswoman Emerson for her foresight to assist us in upgrading our facilities and, thus, contributing to future economic development in our region.”

Dr. Chris McGowan, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and director of the project, says that grant will fund equipment for anatomy and physiology labs and general equipment for teaching biology. He says some of the funding also will be used to retrain faculty in using newer teaching techniques, including inquiry-based learning.

A key component of the project is leveraging the university’s strengths and resources to improve life science education, foster inquiry-based learning in laboratories, and promote student success.   The project specifically leverages the rich natural resources of the region and high caliber faculty expertise at Southeast to provide unique, experiential learning opportunities for life science students.

“One of the goals of the grant is to increase the retention of students by changing how we teach the science of biology and by replacing old outdated laboratories with new state-of-the-art facilities,” McGowan said.

“We are thrilled that this investment is going to be made to provide our science students with first-rate science facilities and learning experiences that we hope will help pave the way for a lifetime of success for our students in the life sciences,” he added.

Major architects of the grant were Margaret Waterman, professor of biology and middle and secondary education, and Teresa Wilke, director of Grant Development.

These funds were awarded under a highly competitive federal grant program of the U.S. Department of Education – the Title III, Part A: Strengthening Institutions Program.  The Strengthening Institutions Program seeks to help eligible colleges and universities expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of these institutions.