Published March 6, 2014
The UB Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution naming the new Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) building on the Downtown Campus the Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Center in honor of the former state Assembly member who was instrumental in establishing the EOC program statewide.
UB opened the new EOC building at 555 Ellicott St. on June 14, 2013; classes began in the building last September.
UB’s EOC was one of four Urban Centers created in 1966 under SUNY supervision and funded by the governor and state legislature — under the leadership of Eve — to provide occupational training and college preparatory programs to underserved populations. In 1973, the Urban Centers evolved into the more comprehensive Educational Opportunity Centers. The current statewide network of 10 EOCs and two Counseling and Outreach Centers are managed by SUNY’s University Center for Academic and Workforce Development.
Eve also was a key player in establishing the statewide Educational Opportunity Program — which now bears his name — which provides talented students who haven’t been able to reach their academic goals because of educational, economic or personal challenges an opportunity to gain admission to New York colleges and universities.
“The origins and success of the Educational Opportunity Program throughout all of New York State are in a large part attributable to the work of Arthur Eve … We think it’s fitting to name UB’s new EOC building in honor of Arthur Eve,” council Chair Jeremy M. Jacobs said.
In introducing the resolution, President Satish K. Tripathi noted that “we have all witnessed the role our UB EOC has played in expanding educational and economic opportunities in our region over the years. It is no overstatement to say that the landmark new home of the EOC never would have come to fruition without Arthur Eve’s vision and tireless work.”
“Naming this building in his honor would be a very fitting tribute,” Tripathi said.
In other business, council members heard a presentation about the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP) from project leader Joseph Gardella, SUNY Distinguished Professor and John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry at UB.
ISEP, a teacher-focused initiative aimed at changing how science is taught in the Buffalo Public Schools, is funded by a five-year, $9.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant, awarded in 2001, expands a pilot program that was funded by the Oishei Foundation. Core partners are UB, the Buffalo Public Schools, Buffalo State College and the Buffalo Science Museum.
The word “interdisciplinary” was included as part of ISEP’s title “because our idea was to use UB 2020 interdisciplinary research as a vehicle for teacher professional development,” Gardella said. Unlike other such programs, ISEP views “the task of the teacher is to produce classroom materials, not to become a great researcher.”
While the idea of exposing teachers to research is an old one, “what’s new about this is we’re not trying to have them get papers published,” he said. “What we’ve learned is that makes for smarter teachers, but it doesn’t help them in the classroom, especially in high-needs school districts” like Buffalo.
“Science and engineering” also is an important component of the program title, Gardella said, because “there are very few programs nationally that actually engage engineering as engineering; not engineering to help with math and science, but engineering as engineering.”
“We wanted to expose those science and technology teachers to engineering thinking,” he said.
The ISEP program, he said, fundamentally starts with teacher professional development. And teacher professional development in high-needs school districts “is wasted money unless they have the resources in the classroom to help them.”
While spending 10 years as a parent leader in Buffalo — mostly in special education as both of his children were classified as student with disabilities — Gardella said he learned about the concept of wraparound services and support for special needs students. ISEP applies that “continuum-of-services strategy” to teacher professional development in which faculty, graduate students and teachers work together. The program also supports extended classroom and afterschool staffing with PhD students and undergraduate service learning students from UB, Buffalo State and other local colleges; summer student internships at UB; and summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for middle school students. It also funds field trips — not a trivial thing in a district where there are no funds for field trips, Gardella pointed out.
Among the unique aspects of the program Gardella cited is that it takes the concept of professional learning communities, in which teachers interact to improve their content knowledge, and expands it to go beyond face-to-face meetings to also use social media.
There is a research component of ISEP — NSF funds research; it does not fund service to school districts, Gardella noted —and that aspect is led by Xiufeng Liu, professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction, Graduate School of Education.
Gardella said Liu’s research team will answer four key questions: How do science teachers’ conceptions of interdisciplinary inquiry grow? How do they translate that into the classroom? How do the professional learning communities help? How do UB STEM students develop an understanding of and ability to communicate science to middle school and high school science teachers and students?
In other business at Monday’s meeting: