Teacher education, STEM development highlight new Towson U strategic plan

Towson University President Maravene Loeschke unveiled a new strategic plan Wednesday at her spring presidential address, a plan that spotlights 10 areas she hopes will help accelerate the school's growth by its 150th anniversary in 2016.

"When I arrived there was a strategic plan for 2016, which had five themes and 46 action items on it…but it does not provide priorities for the future," Loeschke, a Towson alumnus who took office in January 2011, said. "What the president's council has been doing over the last couple of months is taking the 46 action items, channeling them into 10 university priorities, which cover the five themes and include almost all of the 46 action items."

Many of the areas Loeschke built her plan around were first highlighted during her inaugural address in September 2012. In each of the areas, Loeschke said new resources would be available to advance the mission.

In keeping with the university's history as a teacher's college, Loeschke's first three items of emphasis centered on the classroom experience. The first priority, she said, was students' academic success, and could be fostered by commitments to mentorship, student retention, and degree completion.

Loeschke's second area of focus is continuing to lead the national discussion in teacher preparation, with input from former State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick one of many factors contributing to the School of Education's growth.

The university also will aim to produce science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates and teachers. Loeschke said the school has raised $4 million additional dollars for STEM teacher development programs, primarily through the UTeach pilot program from the University of Texas.

Other priorities include commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, experiential learning, leadership development, growth in the arts and communications, exemplary work in fighting bias and discrimination, and holistic student well being.

Though she didn't expand on the fate of the men's soccer and baseball teams, which the athletic department proposed should be cut to fully fund the rest of the athletic programs, Loeschke also touched on the state of athletics at the university.

Loeschke said the university is committed to financial sustainability for the athletics program, compliance with Title IX, and remaining competitive within its division.

In an interview late last month, Loeschke said a decision was forthcoming, but said the process of deciding whether to eliminate the teams has been "extremely painful."

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