Greetings from the Dean’s Office. I hope you had a great summer.
We have completed a successful academic year. Thanks to the efforts of our faculty and staff, we produced another large group of graduates for the much-needed STEM Workforce in Oklahoma and in the country.
We started our 2019-2020 academic year last month. The faculty and staff are excited about and look forward to our new year as we will continue our tradition of providing an excellent learning environment for our students.
Of course, I would like to brag about our faculty and staff. Their accomplishments are so amazing and so numerous, but I can provide only a few examples within a limited space.
1. Dr. Beth Allan of the Department of Biology was elected as the President-Elect for the National Science Teachers Association, the largest professional organization promoting excellence in science teaching and learning.
2. Dr. Wayne Lord of FSI and the Department of Biology received the 2019 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest college teaching award in Oklahoma.
3. Dr. Morshed Khandaker of the Department of Engineering and Physics was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and is taking a sabbatical to conduct research at Uludag University, Turkey, for the 2019-2020 academic year.
4. Dr. Kristi Karber of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics received the Oklahoma/Arkansas Mathematical Association of America Section 2019 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.
5. Dr. Jim Bidlack of the Department of Biology was recognized by Multimedia Educational Resource for Online Teaching (MERLOT) for his contributions to the organization’s Biology Editorial Board with the MERLOT House Cup.
6. Dr. Leann Laubach of the Department of Nursing was elected as a National Council on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) Councilor.
7. Dr. Eric Eitrheim of the Department of Chemistry was selected for the first cohort of IONiC VIPER fellows, which is a grant-funded program to help faculty become better teachers and develop new teaching resources for Inorganic Chemistry.
8. Dr. John Fritch of the Department of Funeral Service served as President of the University Mortuary Science Education Association.
9. Dr. Tom Turner of the Department of Computer Science served as a Commissioner for the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission.
Our faculty also won many accolades at UCO during the Convocation last month including:
Two recipients of the Neely Excellence in Teaching Award: Dr. Britt Bannish of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Professor Nelda Fister of the Department of Nursing. That is a record in the history of the Neely Excellence in Teaching Award – both Neely Awards given to faculty in the same college.
Two recipients of the Faculty Merit Credit Award in the area of Research: Dr. Robi Hossan and Dr. Morshed Khandaker, both from the Department of Engineering and Physics.
Dr. Britt Bannish of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics also received the CMS Vanderford Teaching Award.
We also have a recipient of the Exceptional Performance Award: Tara Simmons, the Director of Development at the UCO Foundation and CMS. She has done a great job in raising over $1.2 M for our college last year.
I would like to ask you to join me to celebrate and congratulate these and many other not-mentioned faculty and staff for their achievements. I cannot be prouder to work everyday with such wonderful colleagues in our college.
I would like to let you know that our new, 57,000 square-foot, Donald Betz STEM Research and Learning Center opened its doors last November. The faculty and students thoroughly enjoy the interdisciplinary teaching and research facility. I myself now have a new research lab space in this building so that I enjoy some “stolen moments” from my busy schedule to work in the lab. If you have not visited our new STEM Building, please do so. It has quickly become a landmark in UCO and Edmond.
Looking forward, we are still facing challenges. Working with the department chairs, we have set up our priorities for the next several years:
Increase recruitment, retention, and graduation
Enhance capacity through fundraising
With the efforts of all faculty and staff in these critical areas, we are confident that we will prevail and succeed to fulfill our mission as the only Oklahoma Metropolitan University and become the STEM powerhouse for Oklahoma.
On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students, I would like to thank you all for your continued confidence in and support of our college. I would like to let you know that we are doing our best to make all our alumni, friends, and supporters proud!
Wei R. Chen, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Mathematics and Science