BJ Reed

“It’s a pretty big initiative,” B.J. Reed, UNO’s senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in an interview Friday. “This is a priority for UNO and it’s a priority for the (NU) system.”

The University of Nebraska at Omaha wants to maximize its strength in technical fields by creating a center for science, technology, engineering and math.

UNO, with the support of the NU system’s central administration, will make a proposal Friday to the NU Board of Regents to create the STEM TRAIL Center.

The center wouldn’t immediately require a specific place at UNO.

It would build and enhance programs that bring faculty members from different disciplines together and would make UNO more competitive in acquiring federal grant support for STEM.

The report to the regents estimates that the center would cost a total of $1.3 million over the next five years.

That would primarily be for personnel to lead and support the center.

The regents meet Friday morning at Varner Hall at 3835 Holdrege St. in Lincoln. The business portion of the meeting starts at 11 a.m., with reports preceding that.

STEM has been a buzz term in education for several years. It emphasizes the need for professionals in highly technical areas. The TRAIL portion of the proposal refers to teaching, research and inquiry-based learning.

“It’s a pretty big initiative,” B.J. Reed, UNO’s senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in an interview Friday. “This is a priority for UNO and it’s a priority for the (NU) system.”

A report given to the Board of Regents says 62 faculty members, plus staff and administrators, currently participate in STEM leadership meetings at UNO.

UNO already has five endowed community chairs to lead STEM efforts in teacher education, math, biology, computer science and physical science.

Neal Grandgenett, UNO’s community chairman in STEM for teacher education, said UNO professors are enthusiastic about the center.

“There’s been a lot of input from a lot of faculty,” he said. “It’s more an administrative strategy that allows us to increasingly be competitive for federal grants.”

The center would encourage collaboration among faculty members in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, and Information Science and Technology.

Currently, STEM efforts are spread throughout the UNO campus. The long-term plan anticipates creating a facility dedicated to STEM.

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