Dear CMS Alumni and Friends,
I am writing this from my sunroom at home as I watch a variety of birds pecking through an inch and a half of sleet to find the seeds I scattered for them this morning. UCO is closed for another winter storm, and it is good to be in a peaceful place to reflect on the past few months and decide what to share with you.
Our labs and classrooms are filled with students this semester in spite of the latest COVID variant. It appears that most students and faculty would rather be in the classroom than teaching and learning remotely! Our students have continued to be engaged in numerous lab and field research projects. We were just notified that two of our students, Ghazal Hesami and Faezeh Soltani, mentored by Dr. Christina Hendrickson in the Department of Biology, have been accepted to present their research on the anti-cancer effects of Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) at the Council on Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill 2022 in Washington, D.C. From hundreds of applications nationwide, only 60 are selected for this prestigious event.
We have been making many efforts to increase our students’ preparation and competitiveness for the workforce, and to help fill critical workforce needs in Oklahoma. We have added programs in areas in which demand is high, including three new programs this year: a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry; a B.S. in Computer Engineering, a joint program between the Department of Engineering and Physics and the Department of Computer Science; and a M.S. in Data Science, a joint program between the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. We have been pursuing partnerships with engineering and biotechnology companies that could lead to collaborations, internships, and a jobs pipeline for our students.
We have received some funds from the state for workforce development in engineering and nursing. The Department of Engineering and Physics is planning to use their funds toward a Makerspace that will allow students to have a large and well-designed space to create prototypes and which can also be used for outreach. It will replace the “shop” in the basement of Howell Hall. The Department of Nursing is using their funds for faculty in their new Fast Track, which allows students who have completed another degree to earn a B.S. in Nursing in 18 months, and for additional support staff to advise, mentor, and tutor students to increase their retention and success.
In April, through the efforts of Dr. Carrie Bentley (Biology; Health Professions Advisor) and Mary Matlock (CMS Development Officer), we will host our First Annual Health Professionals Mentorship Dinner. This will provide an opportunity for our pre-health students to meet physicians, PAs, dentists, and other health professionals who are UCO alumni. We hope this will lead to more mentorship opportunities for our students, and to our health professions alumni becoming more engaged with our students on campus.
Our Westmoreland Gallery in the STEM Building finally looks like a gallery! We have hung colorful abstract paintings, many of which were inspired by science, that were donated to us by the artist Julie Richman. The paintings are a perfect fit for the large white walls in the building, and I am sure will inspire imagination and creativity in our students.
We have formed a Student Advisory Board for the College, composed of a student representative from each department. We had our first meeting at which we discussed some areas of student concern that we will work to address. We will seek the board’s input on new initiatives to increase retention and student satisfaction.
On behalf of the CMS faculty, staff, and students, I thank you for your continued confidence in and support of our college. And I wish you peaceful days this spring!
Dr. Gloria Caddell