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Middleton appointed to lead new education vision

May 08, 2008

ASU will be creating and executing a new vision for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Arizona, and James Middleton, professor of mathematics education, curriculum and instruction, will lead the charge.

Middleton, a member of the ASU faculty for 14 years, has been appointed associate senior vice provost for STEM education improvement. He will be working with George Hynd, senior vice provost for education and innovation and dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, on facilitating new directions for STEM education across the university.

Most recently director of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction, Middleton was responsible for leading approximately 100 faculty members in a department that is ranked 14th nationally and fourth nationally in research productivity.

“Dr. Middleton is exactly the right person to lead this ASU effort as he recognizes the critical economic and social importance of attracting more highly qualified students into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplnes,” Hynd says. “As an internationally recognized mathematics educator who has a reputation for attracting external funding to study best educational practices, he understands the critical importance of educating students in the P-12 arena so that they maintain their natural curiosities in science and mathematics.”

“Together with our teacher education colleagues at the West and Poly campuses, Dr. Middleton will work to bring together the intellectual resources in teacher education across ASU to increase the number of highly qualified teachers in mathematics and science education,” says Betty Capaldi, ASU Provost. “Our goal is a university wide vision that fosters new directions in STEM education in ways that benefit both the university and the larger public community.”

In the short term, Middleton will be meeting with faculty groups to learn about existing projects and explore new opportunities to design and deploy STEM teacher education programs.

Middleton’s office also will lead the university’s long-range planning regarding funding and research opportunities in STEM education and will support faculty in the procurement of external funding

“ASU is a unique place in this country. Nearly everywhere you look you find renowned faculty engaged in trying to improve our P-20 learning, instruction and public awareness of STEM principles and new scientific discoveries.” Middleton says. “I want my office to be a venue for faculty to dream up solutions to the problems of STEM education and to invent new possibilities for innovation in teaching, learning and technology. We will be a system of support ready to plug them into partnerships, will offer seed funding to pilot new ideas, and will provide an infrastructure so that faculty can offload some of the burden of administration and get to what makes them happy -- doing the intellectual and creative work of STEM improvement.”

In addition to working internally, Middleton will lead efforts to coordinate STEM outreach and community engagement in collaboration with research and academic units and will work with ASU Foundation to build private investment.

“ASU was a great place when I came here as an assistant professor, and it has gotten better each and every year,” Middleton says. “There is no other place that gives such license to take risks for the sake of innovation. We are designing my office to embody this sense of collegiality and commitment to creativity and impact.”