Record-breaking fundraising, research funding propel Auburn’s College of Education forward

Published: December 16, 2022

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Land-grant mission focus guides college’s instruction, research and outreach advances

Auburn University’s College of Education is wrapping up a banner year, breaking college fundraising records by receiving more than $6.5 million in gifts during the fiscal year.

“This has been a pivotal year for the College of Education,” said Jeffrey T. Fairbrother, dean of Auburn’s College of Education and Wayne T. Smith Distinguished Professor. “We’re grateful to our generous donors who lit the torch for us to carry into 2023. Their investment in our programs, students, faculty and facility will have a tremendous impact on our college for years to come.”

But fundraising success is just one part of the story.

The college also exceeded previous years’ research funding, secured approval for a new building and continues to create innovative programs that address significant needs throughout the state and nation.

Research funding record

The College of Education received more than $11 million in extramural research funding in FY2022, which is more than in any previous year. The college’s faculty also were involved in projects that brought additional funding to collaborating colleges across Auburn’s campus.

“One of the most compelling aspects of our research numbers this year is the story they tell of the breadth and scope of the projects our faculty are pursing and the funders who support them,” said Rodney Greer, the college’s assistant dean for research. “Forty college faculty serve as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on 55 newly awarded projects funded by 36 unique sponsors, including federal agencies, state agencies, foundations and associations, school districts, institutions of higher education and industry partners.”

Research sponsors include the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama Department of Mental Health, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, American Psychological Association and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

State-of-the-art facility

In November, the Auburn University Board of Trustees took the final steps to approve the construction of a new building for the college. The 167,000-square-foot facility will provide innovative instructional and research spaces, as well as contemporary collaborative student and administrative areas.

Slated to open in time for the 2024 spring semester, the college’s new home will bring almost all programming together in one building, creating a more cohesive experience for students.

“Our new building will be more than research labs and classrooms,” Fairbrother said. “This facility will increase collaboration and engagement opportunities and add a strong sense of identity to the student experience.”

Innovative programs

Alabama continues to face teacher shortages, particularly in STEM-related fields like math and science. A recent report indicated that 80 percent of math and science teachers in some Alabama counties are teaching without full certification. To address the STEM teacher shortage, College of Education faculty have received significant grant funding from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, and other funders to provide solutions.

In collaboration with Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, and other key partners, College of Education faculty are creating programs to recruit, equip, mentor and place highly qualified and trained math and science teachers in high-need schools throughout the state.

“Our faculty are driven to improve access to science and mathematics education in our state and beyond,” said Paul Fitchett, head of the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Teaching. “The innovative programs we’re developing, in partnership with COSAM and others, will provide exceptional math and science educators for schools, shaping the next generation of STEM leaders.”

Other compelling programs feature military partnerships throughout the college, including in adult education programs and the Applied Learning Center, as well as the Warrior Research Center in the School of Kinesiology. These collaborations have expanded instruction, research and outreach opportunities to support the diverse and dynamic population in the Department of Defense.

“It has been an incredible year for the college and we have great momentum heading into 2023,” Fairbrother said. “Our loyal donors are committed to our mission, our faculty and staff are driven to make a positive difference, and our students are engaged and inspired to change their corner of the world. So even as we celebrate this successful year, we know the best is still yet to come.”
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