Education secretary spellings announces $2.4M grant to University of Houston

December 07, 2007

The University of Houston has received a grant of up to $2.4 million to improve teacher education in math and science following a competition that included submissions from more than 50 universities nationwide.

The grant is one of only 12 to be awarded by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to implement programs modeled after UTeach, a highly successful math and science teacher preparation program at The University of Texas at Austin. The University of Houston's program is called teachHOUSTON.

The grant was announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Houston (UH).

"Texas has long been a pioneer for research-based, data-driven education. I'm pleased that programs like UTeach and teachHOUSTON are continuing this tradition and expanding a successful model dedicated to improving secondary school instruction in math and science," Spellings said. "By training highly qualified high school math and science teachers, programs like these will help prepare our nation's students for success in college and beyond."

UH's teachHOUSTON is patterned after the UTeach program that was established in 1997 at UT-Austin as a new and improved way to introduce undergraduate math and science majors to secondary school teaching. By offering compact degree plans, early teaching experiences and financial assistance for undergraduate students, UTeach provides a platform for raising the quantity and quality of mathematics, science and computer science teachers in secondary schools.

The University of Houston's teachHOUSTON, which is committed to increasing the number of well prepared science, mathematics and computer science teachers for the community, is being co-directed by Robert Wimpelberg, dean of the College of Education, and Jeff Morgan, chairman of the department of mathematics. "We have critical shortages of qualified math and science teachers," Wimpelberg said, "and the most effective response requires a close working relationship between colleges of math/science and colleges of education. Fortunately, at UH we've been working on this relationship for some time. And the launching of teachHOUSTON shows us how much it pays off," he said.

"We welcomed the opportunity to partner with the College of Education in this important teacher preparation initiative," said John L. Bear, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "As part of a public university, the college is committed to serving the needs of the Houston community. By producing more teachers who are not only well versed in the disciplines they will teach, but also experienced in the classroom by the time they receive their degrees, we will help our area school districts to elevate the quality of math and science instruction. It's a winning situation all the way around: The schools and their students benefit and so does society as a whole," he said.

NMSI is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help the United States maintain its global leadership position in technological innovation. ExxonMobil contributed an initial $125 million to NMSI's efforts. Additional donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

"The expansion of the UTeach program at the University of Houston is another important step in improving student performance across the state of Texas," said Janet Mountain, executive director, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. "We believe Texas will continue to provide proven education models and programs that will benefit school districts across the United States."

"As a company that employs 14,000 engineers and scientists, ExxonMobil knows how important it is to provide the best education and training possible for our nation's young people," said Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation. "We are proud to be part of this important effort to begin to address the critical shortage of math and science teachers in our schools."

Other institutions receiving NMSI grants include Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University of Colorado, the University of Kansas, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Irvine.
About the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI)

NMSI is an innovative non-profit organization created to scale programs proven to positively impact math and science education in the U.S. For more information about NMSI, visit their Web site at

About The UTeach Institute

The UTeach Institute was created to provide direction and leadership to expand and replicate the UTeach mathematics, science, and computer science teacher preparation program at universities across the nation. The primary goal of replicating UTeach is to increase the quantity and quality of mathematics, science, and computer science teachers in schools. UTeach is a highly innovative and successful teacher preparation program, which has doubled the number of mathematics and science majors being certified at The University of Texas at Austin. For more information on the UTeach Institute, visit their Web site at

About Exxon Mobil Corporation

Exxon Mobil Corporation is a leading international energy company whose subsidiaries have operations in most of the world's countries. In the United States, ExxonMobil has significant exploration and production, refining and marketing and chemicals operations. ExxonMobil is one of the largest oil and gas producers and reserves holders in the United States, with a portfolio including Alaska, onshore Gulf Coast and deepwater Gulf of Mexico. In addition, there are approximately 13,000 Exxon and Mobil branded service stations in the U.S., as well as seven refineries, four of which are integrated.

University of Houston

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