The Biological Station undertook an extensive visioning process in August, 2014. We moved a significant step closer to realizing a major part of that vision last December when we were awarded a “Transforming Learning for the Third Century” grant from the University of Michigan Provost’s Office.
This award, together with a major contribution from the LSA Dean’s Office, totals ~1.5M over 5 years. It will support a new project to engage diverse disciplines in conducting field-based education and research on environmental problems at our field station. We anticipate partnering, not only with more UM natural science departments, but also with departments, schools and colleges focused on social sciences, the arts, policy, design, engineering, and environmental law.
We have worked with our advisory board to set a goal of raising at least $500K in additional scholarship support ($100K per year) to ensure that all students engaged in these new field-based courses have their financial needs met. Even the most affordable of our courses – a 4-week session for a Michigan in-state undergraduate – costs more than $3,800. Out-of-state students attending our 8-week summer session pay more than $14,000, in addition to travel expenses.
Many students are foregoing a summer job to take classes at the Station, trading income for a tuition bill. Every year we have students who withdraw their applications once they receive our financial aid award and decide it is not enough. This is disappointing. Current research shows that engagement and immersion in hands on research, which is at the heart of student experiences at the Biological Station, is critical to attracting and retaining students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.
The Biological Station engages and excites students in all of these areas and has a strong record of alumni moving on to careers in research and other professions requiring analysis of data and development creative solutions to thorny problems. We want students to experience our programs regardless of ability to pay.
I am asking that you help make Bug Camp memories for future generations of students. Gifts to any of our scholarship funds help. Better still is a gift to our Development Fund, which lets us use your gift where we need it most: scholarships now, other efforts once we remove cost barriers for attendance.
On behalf of the University of Michigan Biological Station I invite all of you to return for a visit when you are able. And I thank you for supporting the Station in any way you can.