During the Back to School tour, Diane Auer Jones visited colleges in Delaware and Maryland to celebrate successful institutions and meet with students as the new academic year begins. As the principal Deputy Under Secretary, Delegated to Perform the Duties of Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, Auer Jones visited colleges with high performing STEM programs and STEM-based career and technical education programs.
Diane’s first stop was at Delaware State University (DSU). DSU, located in Dover, is an Historically Black College that excels in competing for STEM research grants and engaging
undergraduate and graduate students in research experiences. She met with students working in a neuroscience laboratory and a plant molecular biology laboratory and viewed some of the presentations students had delivered at recent conferences. She also visited the campus’s impressive aquaculture facility and visited the USDA Food Safety Laboratory housed on the campus. She also met with campus leaders, including the President and Provost, and with a group of energetic and impressive student leaders who made great recommendations for how the Department could help students better understand Federal Student Aid programs.
Next, Diane traveled to the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), where she once served on the faculty of the Biology Department. While on campus, she visited the new, state-of-the art science education building, as well as the campus’s high tech cyber security laboratory, its aviation technology program and its Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory), where students, faculty and members of the community can access laser cutters, 3-D printers, computer-controlled advanced manufacturing equipment and other
sophisticated instruments to develop new devices, technologies and prototypes to support new inventions. A student group recently used the tools and equipment in the Fab Lab to develop a prototype for a newborn neonatal incubator that can be assembled in the developing world for around $200, thereby improving healthcare in regions where commercial neonatal incubators are unaffordable. Diane also met with staff in the financial aid office to better understand how the Department could do more to support students and help institutions meet student financial need.
To wrap up her tour, Diane visited the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). UMBC is led by President Freeman Hrabowski, who is world-renowned for the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, a program which has consistently resulted in the country’s highest rate of African American students getting into MD-PhD programs. While there, Diane met with the President’s Council, toured the biology building, visited a state-of-the-art interactive chemistry learning center, and discussed the institution’s new cyber security apprenticeship program. She also met with President Hrabowski to discuss a number of the Secretary’s higher education priorities.
Over the course of these visits, Diane was able to interact with and listen to educators, students and administrators to better understand how the Department can support innovation, expand postsecondary options and reduce regulatory burden and help students succeed.
Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.