VP: Holy Cross STEM Focus Could Fill Pipeline

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(Image courtesy of Holy Cross College) (Image courtesy of Holy Cross College)

Holy Cross College in Notre Dame is boosting its focus on science, technology, engineering and math. The school is planning a new $7 million science facility on the campus with funding from a regional foundation and a match from the $15 million Holy Cross "Ascend" campaign. Holy Cross recently added biology and computer science majors, as well as a new educational track in pre-engineering that is part of a collaboration with Saint Mary's College and Purdue University Polytechnic Institute.

It also began using part of the old Saint Joseph High School building on the edge of campus this summer as laboratory, classroom and office space for arts and science programs. The school says the increased emphasis is a response to growing market demand for graduates in STEM fields. President Br. John Page says "the liberal arts curriculum is essential to providing a comprehensive educational background. But we also want to provide a broader scope of detail in terms of what majors and tracks are available."

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Fr. Jesus Alonso says Holy Cross is working proactively with partners to "make more direct connections" for students. He says undergraduates are not always aware of career or educational opportunities in the region, so the goal is to expand its contacts with local schools and showcase the school and jobs in STEM to high school students.

The college's growing focus on biology and computer science, Alonso says, was developed out of a combination of examining work force data, connecting with employers and studying trends in opportunities for Holy Cross interns. "It helps us understand how we can direct our students into appropriate fields and really communicate in concrete ways and realistically to an undergraduate student where the opportunities lie." Alonso adds local partnerships and research conducted by the college have helped leaders understand what the work force needs will be over the next 5-10 years.

Alonso says ultimately, graduates of the STEM-focused programs will help fill needs in state and local communities. "The college is taking a very proactive approach to reaching out to local schools and really creating pipelines of talent at all levels from secondary to the university to the work force. Really, by doing that, we would hope it would contribute to enlivening the local economic viability of the region," said Alonso.

The more than 50-year-old college's current enrollment is 530 and its curriculum focuses on liberal arts education.

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