Our History

The JMU STEM Center was founded in 2007 by Dr. Bob Kolvoord. The Center represents a cross-campus collaboration between three colleges: College of Science and Mathematics, College of Integrated Science and Engineering, and College of Education. Until 2018, the Center was led by a team of three faculty members donating their service time to build the Center. As STEM programs and initiatives in our local school grew, the need for full-time leadership of the Center became evident. 

In 2018, a new organizational model was adopted. Currently the Center is led by a full-time director, Dr. Kerry Owens Cresawn, with full-time administrative support from Ralph Rich. Dr. Cresawn is advised by an advisory group of STEM and Education faculty members as well as the deans of the three colleges; Dr. Prins, Dr. Kolvoord, and Dr. L’Esperance. Most importantly, the Center’s work could not be sustained without the dedication of our faculty and students who engage the K-12 community in STEM education enrichment through a variety of outreach programs and activities.  

Our Values

First and foremost, the STEM Center is dedicated to development and long-term success of evidence-based and mutually beneficial outreach and engagement partnerships for our K-12 and JMU community constituents. 

The values and goals of the STEM Center are framed by James Madison University’s strategic plan for community engagement:To foster mutually beneficial and reciprocal partnerships, ranging from local to global, that connect learning to practice, address critical societal problems, and improve quality of life. 

In addition to being mutually beneficial, our programs are designed to provide rich opportunities for both JMU students and K-12 students to connect their classroom learning to practice, whether that be the practice of communicating science to diverse audiences or the practice of integrating physical science concepts and technology to propose solutions to real-world challenges. We develop opportunities for K-12 students to learn the knowledge and skills of STEM in the context of critical societal problems. Lastly, by exposing students of all backgrounds to the opportunities for STEM careers and supporting their teachers in preparing them to be competitive for these careers, we aim to improve the quality of life for the students themselves and those they impact through their work in STEM. 

Our Mission Statement

To engage JMU students and faculty in K-12 STEM outreach by developing high-impact, sustainable, and mutually beneficial informal STEM education programs. These programs are designed to pique interest; foster both STEM literacy development and skills for success in STEM; demonstrate the role of STEM in an equitable and just society, and raise awareness about STEM careers. We consult with local teachers and state leaders in STEM education to identify needs and work with experts across campus to address those needs.  We design our programs to be equitable and inclusive so that all students in our region have access to participation and the opportunity to explore, learn, and succeed. 

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