To Boldly Go: University of Idaho's Gregson to Coordinate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Initiatives Aimed at Next Generations

Wednesday, September 30 2009

Written by Tania Thompson

MOSCOW, Idaho – With an eye toward inspiring the next generation of leaders, the University of Idaho will coordinate its institutional efforts in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math – known as STEM.

The land-grant university has asked Jim Gregson, professor of adult, career and technology education in the College of Education, to take the lead faculty role to coordinate the institution's statewide initiatives on STEM, which reach down into K-12 and continue into the college level.

"The University of Idaho is specially qualified, through its statewide, land-grant mission and its research emphasis, to lead Idaho in coordinating this critical initiative," said President Duane Nellis. "Our impact will be not just at the university level through our own research, but will reach across many different parts of our state to help all of our students – from kindergarten forward – to succeed and excel in these vital areas. Jim has integrated science, technology, pre-engineering, mathematics and language arts, as well as sustainability, into his secondary construction technology curriculum; he's well-positioned to lead our charge."

A national STEM plan released by the National Science Foundation in 2007 criticized the U.S. for failing to meet the educational needs of U.S. students, "with serious implications for our scientific and engineering workforce in the 21st century. Addressing this issue is absolutely essential for the continued economic success of the nation and its national security." By addressing and developing these competencies, the NSF concluded, with basic scientific, technological and mathematical knowledge, Americans will be able "to thrive in the increasingly technological global marketplace."

Gregson agrees with the importance of focusing on STEM initiatives. "The STEM-related disciplines are critical to our economy, environment, society and culture in the 21st century, but the University of Idaho's approach affords us a wonderful opportunity to engage higher education, public education, communities and the private sector through teaching and learning, research and outreach in ways that are highly congruent with our land-grant mission," he said. "It's important to me that we maximize the synergy from them and use those to give the best advantage to our faculty, students, Idaho communities and K-20 education."

Gregson will establish a STEM research and outreach program of national prominence that builds upon the university's strengths, is sustainable and addresses problems facing the state. His duties include: assessing the university's current capabilities, expertise and capacity for STEM activities; analyzing funding trends from federal, state and private foundations and agencies, and coordinating efforts to secure funding; and establishing a signature theme for the STEM activities.

He will make periodic reports to the provost and the vice president for research. Gregson also will continue in teaching, service, and other aspects of research and outreach and engagement in his position.

"While I am really excited about the holistic and contextualized approach we are employing to STEM, I am equally excited about the inquiry-based, experiential teaching/learning we are facilitating for K-12 students, university students, community members and faculty because it really blurs boundaries and crosses borders among teaching, research, and service and outreach, ” Gregson added.

He joined the university in 2001. Prior to Idaho, Gregson was a professor at Oklahoma State University, a researcher for the National Center for Research in Technical Education and a construction technology instructor at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. He earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; master of science degree from Arkansas State University; and his doctorate in education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit  

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit