State Farm and UTEP Working Together to Bolster Student Progress
February 01, 2011 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
With a new year and the start of a new semester under way, a generous gift is paving the way for a new program at The University of Texas at El Paso that will be a model for how engineering is taught around the country.
State Farm Insurance has been one of those UTEP partners. Company representatives will present University leaders with a check for $65,000 to benefit the College of Engineering and the College of Education.
The gift adds to the growing total of $200,000 from the insurance company over a 7-year period.
A large portion of State Farm's investment in UTEP has supported programs such as the A Better Beginning Conference (ABC), as well as the Teacher Residency Induction Program – a program that is focused on pairing veteran mentor teachers with novice educators in order to boost retention rates.
"We've had strong support from State Farm over the years," said Josefina Tinajero, Ph.D., dean for the College of Education. "With their support, we have been able to offer additional programming primarily for newer novice teachers in the El Paso area."
El Paso currently boasts an 84 percent teacher retention rate, compared with the national rate of 50 percent, Tinajero said.
According to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (2006), "state-level policy support for teacher induction programs can help teachers realize their full potential, keep them in the profession, promote greater student learning and save money."
"The numbers reflect the work and generosity that State Farm has contributed to UTEP and the El Paso community," Tinajero said.
The College of Engineering has will benefit from the State Farm gift. It will provide funds for the purchase of the JTest, a commercial, professional-grade software testing system.
According to Steven Roach, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, industry recruiters have indicated students need to have more experience with testing software.
"We have been working on integrating the testing software into the undergraduate and graduate programs," Roach said. "The gift supported the purchase of 28 computers in research laboratories in the Department and in the ExcITES CyberShare Center."
The gift also will support the Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) program of the computer science department. The PLTL is a program where undergraduates in computer science provide active learning experiences to introductory students.
Funding from State Farm, along with support from the Computer Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions, is allowing the entire department to continue the program, Roach said.
"Support goes beyond the gifts to the department" he said. "State Farm also actively recruits our students for summer internships, as well as recruits graduates for future employment."
Originally posted on News @ UTEP.