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Updated 10:00 AM September 10, 2007
 

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U-M alums donate $1.25M to IDEA Institute

In 2005 one-third of U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders and less than 20 percent of 12th-graders reached proficiency in math and science, according to the National Science Foundation. At the same time, research by the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching says 60 percent of all new jobs will require skills possessed by only 20 percent of the population.

Some are calling this gap in the skills acquired and those required a crisis in math and science education that endangers American competitiveness in the global market and threatens the economic future of individuals.

In response, alumni Robert Horwitz (A.B. '74) and Catherine Redlich (A.B. '71 and A.M. '73) have established a $1.25 million gift over five years to support the first major program of the Instructional Development & Education Assessment (IDEA) Institute, an innovative joint venture of LSA and the School of Education.

The program will bring together faculty and students from science, math and education to design, implement and assess new teaching methods and materials to advance learning in science and math from middle school through graduate school.

"Cathy and I have a deep interest in making math and science curriculums more engaging and accessible to young people," says Horwitz, "with the dual goal of encouraging more students to major in these areas once they reach college, and to attract more math and science teachers. The U.S. is on the brink of losing its international competitiveness due to a lack of these skills in the workforce."

In a recent international study of 34 developed nations conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, U.S. students ranked 29th in math proficiency.

The IDEA Institute will enable undergraduates in LSA and education who are interested in teaching careers to experience innovative instruction and to work with collaborating teachers in pre-college classrooms. It also will bring distinguished lecturers to campus and sponsor annual regional workshops to provide opportunities for U-M faculty and sixth through 12th grade teachers to explore and discuss new ways of thinking and teaching.

Redlich and Horwitz also have given $300,000 to support the Redlich-Horwitz Community Scholars in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. UROP enables students to develop and apply research skills in real-world settings to benefit community-based organizations in Detroit, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

"Soon we hope to partner with community organizations in other urban areas as well, such as Newark, Chicago and New York," Redlich says.

The couple also has given an additional $30,000 for a teaching award in the Department of Chemistry. The gifts are part of LSA's fundraising effort for the $2.5 billion Michigan Difference Campaign.

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