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2011.08.29 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Second $1 Million Gift Advances STEM Education at UNO

Omaha - Dr. George Haddix of Omaha has made a $1 million gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to assist the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in addressing an important issue in American education — STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and preparing the educators who teach in these disciplines.

The gift establishes the Dr. George Haddix Community Chair in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in the College of Arts and Sciences. It is Haddix’s second gift focusing on STEM education.

Haddix also made a $1 million gift last fall to establish the Dr. George and Sally Haddix Community Chair in STEM Education in the UNO College of Education.

A growing concern in the United States today is that the country does not have enough STEM educated professionals to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated and technological society, especially compared to other countries.

In 2010 the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. 48th in the overall quality of mathematics and science education. It reported that 93 percent of American public school middle school students are taught the physical sciences by a teacher without a degree in those areas.

Today American students rank 21st in the world in science education and 25th in math.

Strengthening K-12 education in math, science, engineering and technology is critical, and UNO leads in addressing the issues thanks to Dr. Haddix’s vision and support, said John Christensen, chancellor, UNO.

“Dr. Haddix understands the importance of effectively teaching students in these critical disciplines,” Christensen said. “With this recent gift Dr. Haddix ensures that future generations of math teachers are fully prepared to not only teach math but to effectively engage their students as well,” Christensen said.

Haddix is a 1962 graduate of Omaha University (now UNO).

Faculty support is one priority area of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s Campaign for Nebraska and for UNO.

Community chairs, like those established through Haddix’s gifts, are the highest ranking chairs at UNO. They provide the university with a strong incentive when recruiting, retaining and rewarding distinguished faculty in academic and research areas.

With the second Haddix Chair UNO was able to conduct a national search and successfully attract a renowned educator in mathematics to campus — Angie Hodge.

“Thanks to Dr. Haddix we were in a position to recruit an outstanding scholar who also is passionate about encouraging college students to pursue careers in math education,” said David Boocker, dean, UNO College of Arts and Sciences where the mathematics department is located.

Hodge, a native of Minnesota, was formerly a mathematics professor at North Dakota State. She practices “inquiry-based learning,” focusing less on lecturing and more on engaging students in problem-solving activities.

She also is focused on finding students with math ability and a desire to teach but who have not put the two together.

“Teaching is my No. 1 passion,” Hodge said. “And helping others to like teaching and to like math is something I like to do, too. It’s a chance to actually make a difference — to recruit more high-quality math teachers and to also work with other people in the STEM disciplines.”

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that has connected the dreams and passions of donors to the mission of the university for the past 75 years. In 2010, donors designated more than $136 million in gifts to scholarships, academic programs, medical research and other priorities at the university. The foundation’s current $1.2 billion fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, concludes in 2014. For more information, visit nufoundation.org.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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