Saginaw Valley State University has assigned a highly respected educator to coordinate SVSU’s focus on improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in the region. Carolyn Wierda has been named executive director of STEM@SVSU; in that position, she will convene those that are involved in STEM initiatives at SVSU.
“I'll be working with those involved in those programs on campus so we can collaborate and enhance our relationships with external partners,” said Wierda, who has been serving as associate dean of SVSU's College of Education. “It's critically important for the university to take a lead in STEM because of the needed pipeline for the region's economy.”
Recent exam results indicate a majority of local high school students are not considered college-ready in the STEM fields despite the growing emergence of job opportunities in related industries within the region.
Wierda also serves as chair of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance's education council and is one of three leaders for its STEM Impact Initiative.
She will continue in her role as co-director of the university's Gerstacker Fellowship program, a leadership development program for K-12 educators.
Prior to SVSU, Wierda enjoyed a distinguished career in K-12 education, concluding her K-12 career as superintendent of Bay City Public Schools, a post she held for five years. She also served as an assistant superintendent for Saginaw Township and Bay City. Following five years as a classroom teacher in Ohio and Michigan, Wierda served as an elementary school principal for a combined 11 years in Merrill and Saginaw Township schools before moving into her other administrative roles.
Wierda completed a bachelor's degree at Bucknell University, a master's degree at Michigan State University, and additional graduate course work at SVSU.
In her new role, Wierda will work with STEM-geared programs at SVSU. Those initiatives include the following:
• The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU Community STEM Partnership, which provides professional development for K-12 STEM teachers.
• The Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center, a collaboration with Dow Chemical Co. to support increased educational outreach and research opportunities at SVSU.
• The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow STEM Scholar Network, a program promoting STEM-related research programs for middle school, high school and SVSU students.
• The STEM Program Manager office, which will connect the Dow Chemical Co. STEM ambassadors to area classroom teachers and students.
• The Consumers Energy Engineering Talent Development Program, which develops a pipeline of electrical engineers to meet the region's energy industry needs.
• The SVSU Regional Mathematics and Science Center, which provides leadership, curriculum support, professional development and student services to educators in local school districts.
Wierda’s new appointment is effective immediately.