Thurgood Marshall College Fund Delegation Returns From Malaysia and Singapore Fact-Finding Mission

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Hallema Sharif Clyburn
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A Deeper Look into Preparing Global Leaders

 NEW YORK (April 14, 2011) – A delegation of educators and individuals from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Malaysia and Singapore.

The delegation included the following TMCF Representatives: President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.; Founder and Board Member Dr. N. Joyce Payne; International Consultant Jerry L. Drew; and Executive Assistant to the President Rosalind Riddick.

Other delegates included: Dr. Robert L. Ford, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Department of Chemistry at Texas Southern University; Dr. Joseph Lewis Graves, Jr., an Associate Dean for Research and a Professor of Biological Sciences at North Carolina A&T State University; Dr. William Hamilton Harris, President of Alabama State University; and Dr. A. Anil Kumar, Head of the Department of Physics and Professor of Electrical Engineering at Prairie View A&M University.

TMCF’s 2011 fact-finding mission to Malaysia and Singapore was part of a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)-sponsored initiative to produce a comprehensive study of a select group of exemplary degree programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at universities in South Africa, China, Malaysia, and Singapore. The TMCF delegation travelled to South Africa in 2009 and to China in 2010.

“These fact-finding missions were designed to create new thinking to drive success in the production of human capital in STEM. The goal was and still is to convert the information gathered into programs designed to achieve measurable change in the quality and quantity of students completing degree programs in STEM at public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). This information will be used to create a major national initiative to “Engage, Innovate & Invest” in STEM at TMCF’s 47-member schools,” Dr. Payne said.

To create a major national initiative, the TMCF delegation identified: best practices that could be replicated; change through advocacy at the highest levels of policymaking; STEM programs that could be aligned with TMCF’s mission and member schools; how to invest in strengthening infrastructure and capacity building; and how to establish a TMCF-Institute to support global partnerships around STEM and beyond.

Taylor explained  “South Africa, China, Malaysia and Singapore were selected because they are becoming major forces in making a substantial and sustained investment in talent, ideas and innovations in the sciences, but they are also becoming powerful tools for social and economic transformation.”

Meetings in Singapore included the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the National University of Singapore, the National University of Singapore High School for Mathematics and Science, Nanyang Technological University, Biotech Park, and Singapore Management University.

In Malaysia, the delegates met with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Technological University of Malaysia, the University of Malaysia, and Putra University of Malaysia. To obtain a broad view of existing initiatives, while giving shape and direction to new policies and practices, delegation members met with senior government officials, leadership of higher education associations and university officials, faculty members and students.

In all of these meetings, TMCF delegates found prominent scientists who were profoundly optimistic about the future of science education and the position their country will occupy in the next generation of science and technology.

TMCF’s international initiative is allowing the organization to shift gears from fact finding to design and implementation of new policies and practices that will draw upon the resources of it’s member schools.

TMCF’s delegates developed three core values that provide strategic direction for the mission. These three core values are (1) engagement to increase and access opportunity, (2) innovation to design new models of excellence, and (3) investment to generate public and private resources.

As a result, TMCF plans to establish student and faculty exchanges, offer joint-degree programs and conduct collaborative research. Toward that goal, TMCF will create a five-year strategic plan that lays the groundwork for redefining academic policies, practices and pedagogical procedures, while widening the scale and scope of its programs.

At a time when the rapidly changing world of cyberspace is fueling exponential growth in science and technology, this renewed commitment will require consolidation of our collective resources and generous public and private support in 10 critical areas.  The challenge is to:

o   Create an overarching strategic framework to guide change.

o   Organize and consolidate resources.

o   Create a shared vision and a seamless network of institutions.

o   Strengthen and expand existing programs, especially at the doctorate level.

o   Replicate models of success.

o   Reorganize and realign programs with state and national interests.

o   Create a competitive environment for teaching, learning and research.

o   Work across disciplines, institutions and geographic boundaries.

o   Create incubators and science centers with government and industry.

o   Contribute to the human resources mission of the U.S. Department of Army.

As indicated, reorganizing and restructuring programs in STEM will require a sustained and substantial investment in the continued development of public HBCUs and PBIs.  Education and research in science and technology aimed at increasing humankind’s knowledge of the world and building a strong, prosperous and secure America are central to the mission and critical to preserving and extending domestic and international reach of the nation’s public HBCUs and PBIs. With 47 of some of the finest and most prestigious colleges and universities in the forefront of this change, we can “Win the Future,” as President Obama said so powerfully in his 2011 state of the union message. 

About Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice, was established in 1987. TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending our 47-member schools, which include public Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs). TMCF's work is critical to guaranteeing our country a robust and diverse pipeline of talented workers and future leaders. TMCF achieves its vision of Changing the World . . . One Leader at a Time by focusing on three areas: Scholarships, Capacity Building & Programmatic Support, and Public Policy & Advocacy.